How To Start a Reading Revolution, Perhaps

My students have always been readers, not all the kind that steal any time they can to bury their nose in a book, not all the kind that begged for more reading time, but still, they have almost always been readers.  Of course, I have my old reading log partly to blame for that, the constant counting of pages and minutes, and the very structured and meticulous note-taking I did whenever I checked in with a child.  Reading was not always born out of love in my room but more out of necessity and have to.

Not this year.  I grew out of reading logs several years ago and have never looked back, but the love of reading did not abound in my room by any means.  Sure, there were those few kids that just had to tell you about their latest book, but they were by no means the majority.  And yet I had no intention of changing the reading attitude in my room, after all, I am no miracle worker and why fix it if it isn’t broken?  But something changed this year, I am not sure what, but reading has become our passion.

Our room of students no longer groan when it is time to find their books and their spot, instead they groan when I ask them to come to a good stopping place.  Must do not thumb reluctantly through my many strange books or constantly reread the same book over and over,  hoping I wont notice.  Many old reading habits have died and been replaced by a new one; a love and passion to spend our time reading fantastical books.

This transformation started with an evaluation of my classroom library and realizing that I had quantity, sure, but no quality.  I had ordered whatever looked enticing but never taken the time to read much of it.  I had faith that students would just discover great books on their own and share them with friends, not knowing what my own reading responsibility was.

This year, I read as much as I can, trying to turn off my computer every night by 8 PM and getting an hour of reading in before I fall asleep.  My home library has spilled into my classroom and I thrust new books into the hands of students knowing that they will probably like it.  I constantly know what my students are reading because we are constantly discussing it.  I am encouraging students to give up books that they are trudging through; reminding them that it is ok to not finish every book.  I am showing book trailers and getting honest feedback.  We are readers and not just at reading time but at any time throughout the day.  Books are the most important things to us and those kids that I used to interrupt at all times so I could teach them  one more strategy  those kids whose reading time was diminished so we could intervene, scaffold  and model, those kids who didn’t get to pick a book because we knew better; those kids are reading.  And they are reading silently, not because I wander the room with my eagle eye, but because their book is that good.

Today, was one of those days where I couldn’t quite believe how far we have come in two months.  One student asked me what to read next since he had just finished “Liar & Spy,” I was astounded since I had given him that book yesterday.  Another student did his first book talk and didn’t hate it, this is the kid that promised me he had nothing to talk about.  Another kid, who said his goal was 1 book for the whole month of January has read 3 and is excitedly reading “Origami Yoda” at the moment, not even realizing that it is a book meant for kids at a higher level than he is.  Or the girl who is counting down the days until the sequel to “The False Prince” comes out, well, actually there is 4 of us counting down.   We are readers.  Not because Mrs. Ripp threatens us.  Not because a reading log tells us so.  Not because there is a reward at the end of it all. We are readers because we love books and we cannot wait to share them.

image from icanread

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3 thoughts on “How To Start a Reading Revolution, Perhaps

  1. I love hearing about the reading that you guys are doing in your class and the discussions you are having about books. I'm curious what you have to do when it comes to assessing reading. Do you have specific standards that you are attempting to assess? Are the students self-assessing? As a reading teacher, I'm curious what other folks do and would appreciate anything you might share. I'm trying to write more about what I'm doing, but so far my writing is just a jumbled mess.

  2. Hi Phil,I have the students set weekly reading goals but we are messing around with the time frame of that. i do informal reading conferences and meet with small groups and take notes there. We have to do the MAP testing to check their growth but that does't seem ti play into what they are actually being assessed on for their report card which is more along the lines of comprehension strategies, fluency, decoding etc. There are so many things to assess!

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