“…Mrs.Ripp, just 5 more minutes?” My students are giving me pleading eyes, they want 5 more minutes to read their books even though they know it is the end of the day and really we should be packing up. We are a class of readers,
And yet, the thought keeps nagging me. Why do kids start to hate reading? What will happen to Thea when she enters school, will she want just one more book, 5 more minutes? Or will she become like many students; reluctant to read, hesitant to dream about more books? Will my students lose their love when they go to middle school?
So I ask my students; what makes kids hate reading? Their first response fills my heart, “But we don’t hate reading, Mrs. Ripp, not this year.” So I prod and ask them why not? What do you think I could do to make you hate reading? What do you think happens in middle school where we seem to lose kids as readers. They journal about it and then ask to go back to their books.
Reading their responses, I am not surprised Kids do not want to be told what to read. They do not want books assigned. They do not want to sit in small groups and discuss a shared book. They want choice. They want freedom. But they also want a little bit of guidance. Many of my students write how it is important for teachers to read and know which books to recommend. Many of my kids realize that sometimes they will have to read things they do not want to but wonder whether it can be a short text rather than a guided book group..
One child journals about how teachers should always read the books first and then try to think how it will feel for a student to read it; to experience it the way they do. Then they bring up the time factor; give us time to read. We do sports, we want to spend time with our family and sometimes we are reading another book outside of school. Reduce our homework so that we can read. If you really believe in reading; invest in it as a class.
One student makes me smile with their answer; “Many teachers say they love reading but then their face is all gloomy when they teach it.” Yes, perhaps we as teachers love to read but forget to bring in that infectiousness to our classrooms. Bring in the passion, it’s contagious.
In the end, I was not surprised not too much anyway. We know how to make kids hate reading because it is the same things that make us hate reading as adults.
So take my students’ advice
Love reading yourself
Give them time to read
Know your books
Share your passion
and give them choice
Then see what happens.
Update; My students heard I had blogged about their responses and they wanted to add these two thoughts:
- Don’t do reading logs. Ever. Trust them instead to read. The logs get falsified anyway and end up being homework for parents.
- Reconsider the classics. we may have thought we know all the classics and that students should read them and yes, I have a love of classics as well, but add new ones to that list. The One and Only Ivan will be a classic one day just like Charlotte’s Web so why not include that one?