Read, Read, Read!

To say that reading is a passion of mine it putting it mildly. My mom found out quickly that sending me to my room for punishment was not punishment. That was where I could lose myself in a book and often did. She finally figured out that taking my library card or books away got better results. Chores got done much faster when I wanted that reading time! Then there were the years that I was lucky to find the time to read the headlines in a newspaper or magazine. Four children in five years meant reading was a luxury. Now that my children are older (only 2 left in high school) reading has moved to the forefront of my activities (both professional and personal).

Last spring a friend introduced me to Goodreads and Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer. A summer book-a-day challenge had been issued and I jumped on board making The Book Whisperer a must read. Donalyn Miller challenged me in more ways that just increasing my own reading. I wanted to pass my love for reading on to my students, even though I am not a reading teacher. The next book on my professional reading list was Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher. We all talk about the importance of reading and yet, according to Gallagher, we adults don’t do much of it ourselves. Teachers fair no better in the reading statistics. Are we or are we not lifelong learners? Do we set an example by reading and sharing our own favorites with our students?

Sitting back complaining about my students’ reading abilities was easier than trying to actually do something about it. Reading across the curriculum has always been important to me, but now it was time to really DO SOMETHING than just pay lip service. Donalyn inspired me to create a classroom library. Our classroom library now contains around 700 books (thanks to a few donations, scrounging used books, and a very understanding and generous husband). After contacting the literacy teacher on my team and passing these professional books on to her we decided to join forces and require our students to read 40 books a year. It is now well into our third quarter and while all my students are not on track to meet this goal, most are. And those that aren’t are reading more than they ever have.

Recently several of my students took out their iPods and phones during reading time. These items are actually supposed to be locked away in their lockers or left at home. What were they doing? Reading of course! They had downloaded reading apps and books and were reading away. Curious, I asked all of my class if they would read more if their books were on some type of digital device or eReader. After looking over my Kindle and the reading apps on their classmates’ phones and iPods they all said DEFINITELY! Now I absolutely love my Kindle. It allows me to keep hundreds of books at my finger tips. The ability to switch between books and genres is very important to me. Could these digital tools increase our students’ interest in reading?

My students are reading more this year and sharing their reads through Goodreads. You might want to check this free service out. Students add books to their shelves (to read, read, currently read, or shelves they create). The students are all friends with each other (as well as me and our literacy teacher) so they can recommend books to each other through their ratings and reviews. They really enjoy this capability.

My next goal is to purchase enough small sets of books to actually teach my US History through novels. Anyone out there want to purchase a classroom set of Kindles and enough copies of eBooks to go around? 🙂

Now, I can’t end this without sharing some titles that my students and I have read this year and absolutely love. The list below is just a few of the books my students have loved. Future posts will include more titles. Check them out.

Matched by Ally Condie
Gone by Michael Grant
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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