Must We Be Passionate Readers to Teach Reading?

image from icanread

I am standing in the book store staring at all of the books I want to read and bring into my classroom when a boy’s voice cuts through my thoughts, “Dad, can I get this book?  Mr. Wischer says it is one of his favorites…”  I immediately begin to smile as I poke my head over the shelf, you see, Mr. Wichser happens to be my 5th grade colleague, a brand new teacher, and obviously an influencer of book choices.  The dad agrees and the student happily leaves the kid section, excited to read his new book.

I share the story with Brandon and once again look at my own pile of books eager to get home and get them read so that I can place them into the hands of my students.  What I read matters, I know this because my students have told me so when they ask me for another book recommendation.  At the moment they rely more on me than each other and this year I am finally up for that challenge as I consume more books than I ever have.

And yet, I don’t see many teachers discuss the books they are reading at the moment.  I know we are so busy as teachers, I know we all have so much to implement and do, I know we have lives of our own.  But where is the shared passion for reading?  Where are the book recommendations for our classrooms?  Are we too busy to read or are we too busy to recommend?

It leads to my final thoughts which I have no answer for; should we mandate that teachers of reading be passionate readers?  Or at the very least stay on top of the current books appropriate and engaging for our grade level?  Can we go so far as to demand teachers who teach reading to actually read?

It seems that if you are a middle school teacher in a certain topic you are passionate about that topic.  After all, why would you ever sign up to teach math if you hated it?  But at the elementary level we don’t have to be passionate about it all or so it seems.  We can pick and choose about what we would love to teach and then hope we mask it well enough so that students don’t pick up on our own disdain.  We don’t have to like math or science and we don’t have to have read the books that line our classroom walls.  But it that ok?  Can we truly teach a passion for reading if we do not have it ourselves?

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5 thoughts on “Must We Be Passionate Readers to Teach Reading?

  1. Anonymous says:

    You can teach reading without being passionate about reading, but you can't inspire PASSION for reading without being passionate yourself. The answer is "yes". The best teachers are those who love reading and share this love with their students every day.

  2. Chassity says:

    I love how you encourage your students to read. I have a major love for reading and I think that love comes from some of the teachers I had in elementary school. I saw my teachers reading during class reading time, and then they would share information about the books they were reading. Some of my teachers would even read to us. I believe that teachers can have a major influence on whether students like to read or not. I plan on encouraging my students to read when I become a teacher.

  3. Alison says:

    I agree with Anonymous; we can teach but I don't believe we can truly inspire without a passion for the subject ourselves. Can we require passion?–no. But wise administrators should take evidence of passion into consideration when hiring teachers. As to your point about making the time to make reading happen for you as a teacher, I think we educators all need to take that into consideration. If we are not continually growing and learning in our field, if we don't remember what excites us about our subject, teaching can become lifeless. We cannot light a flame in our students if we don't have the fire burning in ourselves.

  4. I love the comments here, you share my sentiments exactly. We can all teach many things, but we can only inspire kids when we are truly passionate about something. Alison, I agree, learning as teachers is vital to our success and must be made a priority. If we are stagnant, how can we expect our students to grow?

  5. It's so true! In order to be a reader you have to read, in order to teach reading,…? Of course teachers should share the books they are reading and their honest opinions. Your story about witnessing the boy ask for a book based on his teacher's recommendation gave me goose bumps! It is another way of how teachers can inspire and motivate their students!

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