I have been pondering various questions, in an attempt to clarify my thinking about reading.
What is my overall goal?
Students who read because they WANT to, not because they have to.
Why do I want students to read for pleasure?
- Reading frequently improves reading skills.
- Reading frequently improves writing skills.
- Reading allows students an opportunity to escape into another world.
- Reading allows students to build empathy for others' experiences.
- Reading allows students to build community and connection with other readers.
- Reading allows students to understand themselves.
How can I force students to read for pleasure?
This is tricky. It is hard to get some students to read for assignments or marks, so why would they read for pleasure? But I think that is part of the problem. There is pressure to do something, often artificial or contrived, with the book. Students have to prove that they read the book. It takes the joy out of reading. I know that we try to give students a choice in their reading, via the ISU, but students still often don't enjoy reading their chosen book, plus we put a bunch of parameters on what they are allowed to read. It is just a hoop they have to jump through..."get through these books then I never have to read again."
I know some schools have enforced reading time, such as STAR (Stop Talking and Read) or DEAR (Drop Everything and Read). In my limited experience, these programs haven't been very successful. But this also tells me that maybe my thoughts about enforcing (encouraging?) reading in my classroom are unrealistic. Except that Pernille Ripp, a grade 7 teacher in the United States, has great success in rekindling reading in her students. (Obviously things would need to be adapted to fit the high school context.) Ripp shares that to get students to read for pleasure we need to give them time, we need to give them access to lots of books, we need to demonstrate ourselves as readers, we need to let them abandon books, and we need to let them book shop.
What am I envisioning?
If I want students to read, I need to give them class time to read. If it is something I value, then it deserves to be part of my valuable class time. I want a reading and talking about books classroom. Additionally, I'm not going to force them to do something with their reading. The success comes from them reading. I will see them reading. I will have conversations with them about their reading or lack thereof. That's my proof.
So how am I going to work towards creating a reading classroom?
- 15 minutes every day of reading
- Discuss my journey as a reader
- Allow book abandoning
- Have tons* of books available in my classroom
- Create book buzz
- Have opportunities to book shop
- Do a reading challenge
Creating a reading class room is my new preoccupation, and to be honest, I am feeling a lot of discomfort about actually implementing this.
*To be honest, I'll probably only have 100 or so books...I'm relying on bringing in my own library and what I can scavenge from the book room. I know this is limiting...it's what Mrs. Le likes to read, but I'm going to work on expanding it. (I can be pretty resourceful.)