Happy Saturday everyone! At least here in New England, it’s beginning to feel like spring. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Abbey, the driving force behind Mrs. Koby’s Book Club! Corrie is a little extra excited, because for a time she also lived in Kansas just like Abbey. Without further ado, we hope you enjoy getting to know Abbey as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!
Abbey Kobylinski: My name is Abbey Kobylinski (she/her). I’m a fifth grade teacher in the Kansas City area. Though I left to do my undergrad, I’m a life long and dedicated Kansas Citian. I originally studied theatre and french at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa and got my masters and teaching certification at Rockhurst University. I met my husband on a blind date that my mom set us up on. He is also a teacher (high school anatomy and health science) and so we have very similar interests and schedules. When I’m not teaching, I spend time rock climbing, teaching myself home renovation, running, cooking, taking barre classes, traveling, reading, and drinking coffee. I have over 30 house plants.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
AK: I am passionate about creating a strong reading identity within my classroom. We are a team and a team of readers. I constantly remind them that we need to #stealtimetoread. Reading doesn’t have to be a big elaborate affair- but it needs to be what we steal time for. We don’t waste time- we read in our extra minutes and or our transitions and I even have a third of my class taking books to lunch or the playground. My students are so motivated for reading time they made a snow day bet with me to get more read aloud time. I don’t normally make bets with 10 year olds, but when all the “ask” is is for more read aloud time (50 consecutive minutes) its hard to say no.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
AK: My current passion project is my instagram account @MrsKobysBookClub. I started it in late November of last year because I saw the power of literature to make the world a bigger, safer, kinder place for my students and I wanted to share that beyond my own classroom. I have a very supportive group text with friends from college and after I shared a few stories about my students and our joy in books, they requested a reading list so they could read along with my kiddos. That conversation was the spark that turned into Mrs. Koby’s Book Club.
The qualities I look for in the books I share are diverse, inclusive, and inspiring. High quality literature builds empathy and teaches tolerance. Seeing yourself in a book is validating, in so many ways, and truly bridges literacy gaps. It is so discouraging to look through a library and see no stories that reflect your own. But on the other side, reading books that do not reflect your background helps students see a bigger picture and build empathy, tolerance, and understanding.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
AK: Part of what motivates @MrsKobysBookClub is making connections to get more books for my classroom. I work in a title one school, so access to newer titles is infrequent or out of pocket. I would love to grow my following so I can work with more publishers and get better access for my classroom. So please, follow @MrsKobysBookClub on instagram, Facebook , and Twitter. I have amazon wish list of books for our classroom library. They are titles I would love to read and share both on instagram and in with my own students. I also have a small teachers pay teachers account and a small zazzle account of custom teacher stamps.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
AK: Wow y’all, you’re going to make me pick? Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi was stunningly good- powerful and magical with strong characters and a story that didn’t quit. I am so excited for the series and get wistful thinking about that fantastic book. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is my most recommended book from last year. I got every member of my family I could to read it after me- our copy got passed around the city and I loved getting out of the blue texts from my grandma about it. It is so powerful and so hard to read and that’s the point. (I just started her second novel this week, On the Come Up, and I am already obsessed- her voice as an author is so strong).
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
AK: Bookwise- Besides the sequel to Blood and Bone, RJ Palacio is coming out with a graphic novel in the Wonder universe in September. As far as I understand, it revolves around the story of Julian’s grandmother in World War II France. Just like my students, I like to see myself reflected in characters I read, so I look forward to this unique Jewish voice.
Projectwise- I am excited to see where @MrsKobysBookClub grows. My goal was 1000 followers by the end of the year and I’m already halfway there (which makes my heart explode). I have found so much joy connecting with other teachers, publishers, and social justice advocates and it has really reenergized my classroom practice. I also have dreams of starting a youtube channel and doing read alouds. I have a background in theatre and reading to my students is something that brings me daily joy.
Stay Connected with
Mrs. Koby’s Book Club!
@MrsKobysBookClub on Instagram
Support Abbey’s Classroom!