My Epic Reading Challenge Met With Silence

I thought I had them hooked.  I thought they would be over the moon, buzzing with excitement, having one of those moments that we so often dream about in teaching.  Those moments that will forever remind a student why 5th grade was their absolute favorite year in school, ever.  It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not so much as a buzz, rather than a quiet murmur.  A couple of kids smiling, a couple of kids, nodding, not bad, but definitely not as epic as I had envisioned it.

I had just revealed our January book challenge.

A simple premise really; the class would set a goal of how many books we will read in January thus creating a sense of urgency and excitement.  We will have until January 31st to reach it and if we do there would be a huge read-in celebration to toast our achievements with surprise treats and games.  I thought is was a no-lose proposal.  And like I said, they didn’t hate it, but the cheers of excitement I thought would be reverberating through my room with perhaps the addition of a chant of “Reading, reading, reading…” just didn’t happen.

Instead some kids wrote a normal goal; 4 books.  Others stretched themselves with adding picture books; 10 books, while some did not hide their distate for reading; 1 book and even that would probably be a graphic novel.  “You mean you want us to read more Mrs. Ripp?”  I sighed and thought about what to say next.

“It is not just that.  I don’t just want you to read more, I want you to be excited, to share your books and to grab them from each other.  I want you to want to come to school to tell me what you have been reading, tell me what to read next, and to see our goal grow.”  “Oh…”

They get it.  They want to please me.  And some of them are a little bit excited.  Most though, they are still learning the magic of a book and a story that swallows you up.  Some still struggle with what to read next.  Some still struggle with focusing in on a book.  But a couple of them get it, a couple of them ask me what to read next.  A couple of them told me how they had read during snack time, turned off their computer, read to their little brother.  Those kids are with me; the rest?  I am still working on those and that’s ok, I am up for the challenge.


2 thoughts on “My Epic Reading Challenge Met With Silence

  1. Hey Pal, First, super sorry that your kids weren't chanting for you! I love those moments — collective synergy with tweens is a complete rush. Second, I've been playing around with ways to get my kids to deeply and passionately care about reading — and reading together — this year too. The key, I think, is the simple truth that shared passion is less about the task — reading — and it's more about the people. In my room, we're fooling around with an age appropriate version of Goodreads called Destiny Quest: really HAS been remarkable — the kinds of conversations that you talk about are happening more and more on our team, both in person and online.And kids really are ripping the best books out of one another's hands.But I think it's because we're appealing to their already social natures — and your competition, whether it is a group total or not, is still a task tackled by individuals. Any sense here?Rock on, BillPS: Planning on sharing a ton of your blogging stuff in a webinar I'm doing in February. #gratzi

  2. Hi Bill,It all makes perfect sense, which is why I have loved blogging about it. Getting these thoughts down and out has allowed me to not only reflect but also draw off of all of my fabulous co-educators and knowledge holders like you. I remember reading your post that you linked (fantastic post) and it made me sign up for Biblionasium which I have to introduce this week. I agree that students need to be more social in their excitement over books and not just have me as their vessel. Today they read to their first grade buddies and it was wonderful to see them get excited about which books to share. That is what I need to feed off of. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, I am learning so much from this.

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