One Teacher’s Take on Reading

I LOVE reading. I get excited by language, by plot, by character descriptions. I’ll read silly poetry, junky thrillers, moving mysteries and fascinating nonfiction. Reading opens worlds and allows you to travel on exciting journeys without every leaving your chair. Yet, why are there so many kids in our schools that hate it? And what can be done about it?

The why….

I am by no means an expert on this and this IS just an opinion. But I feel there are several reasons why kids might say they hate reading. They are pushed to read too much when they don’t feel like it. The adults in their lives don’t show enthusiasm for it. Students may struggle with learning challenges and lack confidence in their ability to read. They want to appear “cool” to their friends and argue back to adults. Their brains have been stimulated by screens and videogames, and rarely did they ever see an adult in their own home talk about reading or crack open a book. Values are passed on from parents to children and if the parents teach their kids not to value reading, they won’t.

The what…

Build enthusiasm and confidence with kids about reading. You need to know your kid,s and you need to know their interests. You need to provide them with different types of reading material and model enthusiasm for it yourself. Develop a daily reading habit and offer to read aloud to your kids. When you read something great, share it out loud. Talk about your favorite books and authors. For different age levels. If your kids are young, bring them to story hour.

Provide a time where the adults read aloud. Books they love and are entertaining for kids. Read with expression. Read with excitement. Read during snack time. Or read before bed. Buy your kids books of all types- graphic novels, picture books, interactive books, magazines. The more options available, the more natural it will feel. Don’t push it just model it.

Play word games. Scattergories or A-Z are great ones. Balderdash, Taboo, Apples to Apples, Rhyme Time. For teachers, have a word logic puzzle ready to go on the front board before the day starts. Build a habit of daily silent reading.

The how…

The best way to promote reading is a little at a time, with enthusiasm not punishment. Ask hesitant readers about their interests and match them up with books that suit them. Talk about the benefits of reading. Introduce a new book from time to time and read the back cover out loud to the class. Do peer book recommendations. Have older students read to younger ones.

I am a World Language Teacher, not an ELA teacher. And I don’t give students enough time to read in my class, though I have built up a classroom library over the years of books in Spanish. My one challenge is students who when asked to select a book and read, go for the super easy ones and stare off into space or chat about it. Or perhaps they flip through it for a few minutes then daydream. So while some take advantage and learn and grow, others avoid. That’s natural though, and up to me to set up better expectations and talk to the student struggling so I can match them up with a better book.

Do you read with your kids? Are you a teacher? What observations do you have?

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