Saturday, June 2, 2012

Clearing the Way for Reading

My classes responded to a question posed by Nanci Atwell, [Since September] What 10-12 books do you love so much that you think they might convince an 8th grade girl/boy who's a lot like you--except that she/he doesn't read much--that books are great?  After compiling the responses of 120 students, over 460 separate self-selected titles, the chart above shows the most mentioned titles and/or authors--actually, many students were adamant that they be able to simply list Sarah Dessen, John Green, and Sophie Kinsella simply as authors since anything written by them is gold to my adolescent readers

The fact that kids, mine at least, are reading series stands out to me--yet, my classroom library is largely built on individual, stand-alone, novels.

By the same token, over 330 novels were only mentioned once--what a testimony to the varied tastes of our young readers!

It all helps underscore what I've read recently--it takes a few thousand titles to build a classroom library capable of serving the needs and tastes of our kids. While I continue to spend my own money the sheer numbers are daunting!  While I have the means to keep adding to my classroom library it makes me wonder how many other classrooms sit empty because teachers and schools do not have the means to help build these necessary reading zones.

Kids are reading--whether we want to qualify it as deeper reading, meaningful reading, doesn't matter to me in this moment.  My revelation in this moment is that they are reading--and will read if we give them a chance to read.

While some classrooms may not financially be able to provide the books for a reading zone, I lament when I read and hear is that educators do not have enough time to cover curriculum and promote independent reading--testing, curriculum, and our perceptions and individual beliefs as teachers that we are preparing students for the next grade twists upon and around itself.

Self-selected and independent reading is choked.

After 18 years I can reflect and know that I shared in all of those concerns and have allowed those concerns to be in the way...their way. Kids will read if we let them...if we encourage them.

My students took my Moodle poll this week--"How many books have you read since September?"

23 report reading fewer than 10 (19%)
42 report reading between 11-20 (35%)
33 report reading between 21-30 (28%)
13 report reading between 31-40 (11%)
7 report reading 41+ (6%)

With only light encouragement, guidance, and structure, my kids read.  I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I am aware that I can help my kids read...and I can be better at it next year.  I need to be better at it next year.

If I can help clear the way.

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