My students used to read so they could do a book report. They used to read so they could have a book talk with an adult. They used to read so they could check off 1,000 pages. Some read for the love of it, some for the occasional thrill, and some read because I told them to. Much like many children today. This year as we started to have deep discussion about the books we chose to read, I realized quickly that my students were unsure how to discuss a book, how to dig deeper and pull out answers from each other. They even were unsure of why we were learning how to do this in the first place. Surely reading doesn’t have much to do with conversations?
So when I asked them why we discuss our books, the most common answer was because we want to share them. Because it gives us something to do at the end of reading. Because it proves to you that we read. Quietly I looked at them and then told them, “We don’t talk about books to just share them. We don’t practice these reading conversations so that we have proof that we have read that day. We don’t even do it to become better readers. Reading and talking about reading is bigger than that.
We share our books because they show a part of us that others may not know.
We share our thoughts because it may give someone else the courage to share theirs.
We ask questions about books because we must learn to ask questions of others. We must learn to adapt to any conversation thrust upon as adults. To engage and be engaging whenever needed. Sure, we practice our conversations through our love of books, but it is much bigger than that. We practice these conversations so that we can be better people who are interested in those they meet. Who can speak to strangers when needed. Who can think quickly and respond well.
We may speak of books now, but you don’t know what life will need you to speak of later. ” A child that reads becomes an adult who thinks” and you, my students, are thinkers indeed. So don’t think we do it just to wrap up reading, to have a nice little chat. We do it because it is a life skill. We do it for our love of reading, for our love of conversation, and for our love of people. That’s why we have reading discussions; to connect with others and become better human beings.”
I hope they understood my rant.