being a teacher, being me, books, Literacy, Passion, student choice

On Hating Reading


I have loved reading as many years as I have lived.  Reading wove its threads throughout my life, from my mother reading aloud to me every night, to learning to read English books in the lap of my now-father, biking to our public library with a plastic bag empty waiting for the books that would fill it, and now passing my love on to my own children as they beg for just one more book, every single night.

I have brought my love of reading into the classroom, cementing that in this room we are all readers.  We all spend time finding those books that will transform us.  Finding those moments where we beg for just one more page, one more minute, and hope that the teacher will give it to us.

I love reading, but I do not ask all of my students to love reading.  I do not expect them to fall as madly in love with reading as I have, because if I did then I would ask them to accept the identity I have shaped for myself.  I would ask them to sometimes do something impossible.

Instead, I ask them to like it more.  To give it another chance, even if their hatred has been cemented in years of torturous reading experiences.  I make them promise me to give it a chance, a proper one, to keep their minds open as we grow throughout the year.  There are some students who will never love reading.  Who will never feel like reading is the one thing they must do every day to sustain their souls.  And yes, that makes me sad, but I also need to make sure that our classroom welcomes all students.  Even those that identify as reading haters.

So we should carry our torch for the love of reading wherever we go.  We should exude passion.  We should help each child believe that they are readers.  That books are for them.  That they too can immerse themselves in something so deeply that they almost forget to breathe.  Yet, I must remember, that if I tell a child that they must love reading, some children will rebel simply on principal.  Some children will find every reason to hate it more.  So I do not assume that all children will love reading.  I assume instead that within our short time together, I can make them hate it less.  I can change their minds, if even just a little bit.  After all, our classrooms are created by the true personalities of our students.  We must meet them where they are and help them grow on their journey.

I will never stop loving reading.  I will never stop telling my students that they are readers every single day.  Even those that don’t believe they are.  I will never stop sharing my own love of reading, but I will allow students to figure out where their emotions fall and then help them move from there.  I will see my students for who they are, even if they do not love reading. Even if I will never understand how you cannot.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) comes out September 22nd from Routledge.

4 thoughts on “On Hating Reading”

  1. Teaching 8th grade for the first time, I fully expect to see those students who aren’t going to like to read simply because I do. We get hung up on “Johnny hates to read” instead of working to find that hook that may help Johnny hate reading a little bit less. If I can do that, it’s been a successful year.

  2. Reblogged this on technolandy: site of Ian Landy and commented:
    As a once-upon-a-time teacher-librarian I gotta agree – not everyone likes reading (let alone the arguments that fans of a particular genre can start) but there is a value in being able to read – and I still think that when you find a particular style/author/format there will be a bit of joy that comes out (esp if it includes reading blogs!)

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