The Pathway to Difficult Reading Begins With Books They Enjoy
Reflections on Book Love by Penny Kittle
I'm participating in not one, but two online discussions about this book. I read it as soon as it came out, but these groups are giving me time to reflect and shape my thinking.
Introduction and Chapter 1
I started my career as a seventh grade teacher. I was somewhat shocked that all students didn't love to read like I did. So we would talk. They told me they didn't like to read. They liked to hunt and skateboard and play video games. Some were musicians, others liked to sing or draw or act. I taught football players, volleyball players, basketball players, runners and wrestlers.
But I didn't teach readers.
Reading has been a part of my life forever. I don't remember not knowing how to read. And, as a child, I was surrounded by it. Both of my parents and most of my grandparents were readers. I read everything I could get my hands on. As I like to tell my students on the first day, I'll read the cereal box if I don't have anything else. I can't imagine a life of not reading.
Because of my love of reading, I made a promise to those 7th graders. I will find you a book that at the end of it you will be able to say, "Well, that didn't suck." (Never tell a teenager that you will find them something they will love. It turns them off immediately).
And then I work to do just that.
Now I teach high school students. High school, where the love of reading goes to die.
"I don't have time."
"I haven't read a book since __________."
I've never finished a book."
And I again am making my promise. Just one book...
Because I know if I can find the one right book, that may make all the difference.
It takes time to do that. It takes talking to kids. It takes a lot of books. It takes patience.
It takes a teacher who reads and shares that love of reading.
This year I am keeping my list of books read front and center in my classroom---literally. I have a poster of the books I have read, complete with stars. Another poster lists my To-Be-Read list (I need another poster, this one is full). And outside my room and many other rooms in our school hangs a poster:
|Poster created by Tanya Riehle, art teacher extraordinaire.|
What I like is that even some of my nonreaders ask me what I'm reading if I have left this blank. It's a baby step toward reading, but a step nevertheless.
Quotes to Embrace:
"Allowing students to make choices about what they read has been presented in our procession, especially at the secondary level, as enrichment--something to do once the hard work is over. I believe, instead, that it is at the center of our work."
"A book isn't rigorous if students aren't reading it."
"Teenagers want to read--if we let them."
"The pathway to difficult reading begins with books they enjoy."
"...no pleasure in constant confusion..."
"I believe we own a reader's improvement in the year we have them."
"Nothing without joy."