being a teacher, Literacy, Reading

Some Little Things that Grow Our Readers


Who are you as a reader is a question that shapes our experience together in room 235D.

At first, their answers are typically short. ..

I am a reader because I like to read.

I hate reading.

I only read because I am told to.

As the year progresses so do their thoughts.  They start to realize the parts that were there all along and that they are discovering and so gradually their answers change.

I am a reader who only reads a certain type of book.

I read because it takes me away.

I am a picky reader who loves to read but struggles with finding the next great book.

As their identities develop, the responsibility shifts from me to them.  They set the goals at the beginning of the year, I make sure they revisit them, but I also ask them, “Now what?” when they say they don’t like reading.

I ask them, “Then what?” when they say they cannot find a book.

I ask them, “How can I help?” when they tell me they don’t know what to do as readers.

These questions subtly change the power of the room, the control of the learning.  they may seem insignificant but they add up.

As the year progresses, our conversations shift.  No longer a focus on what I need to do but rather on what they need to do. But this doesn’t just happen, I ask them to take responsibility, to figure out their own part so that I can help guide them rather than lead them.

Today, as we settled back after a long weekend break, I asked them to tell a partner who they were as readers.  I modeled it and then let them loose.

Their words surrounded us for a few minutes and then they turned their eyes on this reflection.

Only four questions, but again, such a simple reflection of the thinking that needs to happen.  The ownership that needs to be taken and honed.

I read their answers and am reminded once again how such a small assignment can help me grow so much.

They need my help still with book shopping.

They want more time to read.

They have grown but are still not sure that reading is for them.

They ask me to speak to them more about their reading.

And they see their own role in what it means to be a reader.  As one child writes, “Ms. Ripp doesn’t have to do anything to help me. I think that this is something I need to work on myself.”

So much growth, all from the little things we can do that go beyond handing a child a book and giving them time to read.



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