Friday, February 6, 2015

Reluctant Readers

Last year I spent a whole term building up a culture of reading in my class. I used Donalyn Miller's the "Book Whisperer" to help guide my thinking and her 40 Book Challenge as a catalyst for the students. Reading and talking about books was just what we did. We loved books!

Now as I start with a new group of students I have to build this culture again and this time I have quite a few reluctant readers. I spotted them the first time round when I took the class to the library. They were the ones who didn't find a book to put on the pile for the class, still hadn't got a book for themselves when it was time to issue, and sat together talking about pictures in non-fiction high interest books.

One of the ways that I collect data on reading behaviours is by using the Reading-Interest-A-Lyzer (Donalyn Miller) to find out how often kids read for pleasure, what books they like, do they read for pleasure, and there access to books. The same kids I spotted in the library (no surprises here) came up as having reading as a low priority activity. They didn't go to the public library, they did not want a book as a present and they certainly did not read any books in the holidays.

I have a bit of work to do!

As I build relationships with all the students in my class I am also collecting information about them that will help me build their confidence as readers. I also believe that I can get those reluctant readers on board by matching them with the right book. I don't think is going to be an easy job and for some of the kids I am going to have to be quite creative in my approach. There has been a glimmer of hope already though. One of them put "reading" down several times in an activity where the students designed their own timetables.  I said to him "I didn't think reading was a top priority for you?" and he replied "it's not, but I really want it to be". And that made my day.

I think we beat the love of reading out of kids when they start school. Reading becomes an arduous task and so formal. For some this makes them lose interest. My goal is for all students to see themselves as readers and to enjoy reading.  I want them to explore different genres, find new worlds, relate to characters and grow their imaginations.

Credit: Karin Schreier Hallett,