Ask a high school kid if they like to read. They will look at you like you are nuts. Like to read? No one wants to admit to that. I've written about this before but after Ruth's post last week, I want to add a few more thoughts.
I blithely posted on Ruth site that high school is where the love of reading goes to die, but that's not the entire truth. It's a slow lingering death. It starts earlier than high school.
I talk to my high school kids (I know, what a concept). They are extraordinarily honest about teachers and classes and how they think things should be taught. We talk about reading.
They hate being told what to read and they hate analyzing everything to death.
They hate answering comprehension questions about every short story and novel they read.
They hate discussing in lit circles.
They understand the need to do some of these things with some things they read. They just don't want to do it for everything.
Sometimes, they tell me, they just want to read.
- They want time to read the Hunger Games before the movie comes out.
- They want time to read The Fault in Our Stars because everyone on Twitter is talking about how great it is.
- They want time to read a book slowly and savor it. Not hurry up and finish so they can take the test.
- They want time to read a book overnight because it is so good they can't put it down.
And why don't high school teachers give them time?
- Some because they are trying to desperately get through an amazing amount of material because their class is a prerequisite for the next class. It seems frivolous to give a day "just to read".
- Some because they are told what to teach and when to teach it. They don't want to be seen as a "troublemaker" and break the rules.
- Some because state testing is cause for concern and they have to address those areas that students are low in.
- Some because they have 160 students to see in a day and finding the right book for each and every one of them seems an impossible task.
- Ditto on the reading conferences, book talks, etc.
I know this is pretty simplistic. I also know there are teachers at every level who
- don't read
- who use the same materials over and over again because they don't want to have to bother to create something new
- who haven't read a YA novel since The Outsiders
- who think that YA literature is a vast wasteland with no redeeming value
I know how hard it is to give them time. But given the chance, we read.