What follows in this post is my personal beliefs about reading. I have done some research about what encourages reading and whether certain reading programs are effective catalysts of students reading. But primarily my thoughts on reading come from my observations and interactions with students and my own children over the last two decades.
What I have discovered is that everyone is a reader. It may be that they like to read novels, newspapers, magazines, instructional booklets. But everyone, students and grownups, will spend a lot of time doing something if they enjoy it. Just like some like to play baseball, do crossword puzzles, cook, or paly video games. If you enjoy something you will be content to do it more and therefore become better at your chosen endeavour. The difference with reading, is that as my husband says, ‘one must read to succeed.’ He in not necessarily meaning that success is becoming CEO of a corporation, rather he means that to successfully function in this world, one must be proficient at reading.
So reading takes on an importance in one’s education that other joyful hobbies do not. As educators we want our students to practice their reading. We know that practice imporves all skills. So, how do we encourage reading? Spoiler alert, this is my belief…Find what they like to read and give them lots of oppportunities to read that. Maybe it is an author, or a genre, or a magazine about their hobby.
When my sons were young, I truly thought one of them was “not a reader.” He was not the kid who picked up a book in the middle of the day to read. But one night, I went up to check on my boys and there he was reading in bed. I asked what he was reading and he told me. He also told me he read every night after coming to bed. Even after, we had read to him. From then on, I purchased and found at the library his genre of books (which was/is very different from his older brother and myself). He is also a sports column reader which he now does on his phone.
At a client school this year, I had a conversation with a parent about her concern regarding her daughter’s reading skills. The next day I had a conversation with the student and discovered that she really wanted to read Harry Potter. Talked with her mom again and we both decided that she was not ready academically or developmentally for Harry Potter (more about this: http://edtechease.com/index.php/blog/academically-or-developmentally-ready). I researched some books that were similar to Harry Potter but better suited for this student now. I showed her my findings and she chose a series to try. I bought the first few books, read them myself over a weekend. She loved the series. More than that, she talked about the series with her classmates, who then wanted to borrow these books. The icing on the cake was when their teacher found them doing an impromptu book talk about the series on the floor of the library. That made my heart sing. Her mom has since told me that she calls herself “a reader.” Her teacher has observed her growth in classroom reader and confidence in reading. And if we want to add data, her reading scores have improved dramatically. So have the other reluctant readers that she book-talked into reading this series (and two more series – they have been coming to school to exchange books with me this summer).
So to add one more anecdote: walked out of a store the other day and a young man following his mom(looked to be about 6th grade) nearly walked into me. Why? He was engrossed in a book. Isn’t that what we want for all our students? To be so “into a story” that they can’t put it down.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” – Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn Dixie
How will you get your students excited about reading this school year? How will you make books available to your students? Reach out with your ideas via Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted on Sunday, 28 July 2019.