What's so Great About Reading?
Reading gets me excited, and as it turns out, my students get excited too!
For no reason other than because it is fun, relaxing and educational, I require my students to do ten minutes of reading each class. They can choose anything from my extensive library of novels, graphic novels, magazines, comic books and picture books. (I teach fourteen and fifteen-year-old students but sometimes a good picture book is all they're ready to commit to). There are no looming book reports or reading assignments. Sit. Read. Enjoy. Repeat. While they read, I do the same.
In September I take the books off the shelves and display them on desks. Then I let them "shop" around for about a half an hour. Usually, I don't have to say much. When they find a book or magazine they think they'll enjoy, they naturally sit and read. Sometimes a student will get to the second page and decide they're just not interested, and they are allowed to switch their reading material for something else. There are always a few students who need time before they discover what they like, but they usually find something. And yes, there are some who sit and look at the book they chose without really reading it, but this doesn't last long, maybe one or two sessions.
The point is to show them that sometimes we read to learn and other times, reading can be entertaining, so there is nothing wrong with picking up a joke book or comic book if that is what gets them in the zone.
The point is to show that reading can be entertaining.
I have more reluctant readers than avid ones, but by October, they are asking for more than just ten minutes of reading time. Sometimes I forget because of announcements or unfinished business from the day before. They never forget to remind me: Miss Beddia, will we still have reading time? November rolls around, and everyone's writing has improved. Students are more creative, use better sentence structure, and enjoy writing more. I am in my fifteenth year as an English teacher and this has been true every year.
My students do more than read. They experience a positive environment where reading is normal and enjoyable. They come into my class and there are new books piled on my desk. They come around and pick them up and look through them and ask me what they're about. Informally and unplanned, we have a conversation about literature.
In large group discussions we discuss short stories and their meanings. What's the author's purpose? I am always asking them. Regardless of the answer, the conversation always turns to us; our personal experiences with said theme or message. It is inevitable that young minds will make connections between literature and their own lives. This is when I feel like my job is the most amazing job in the world.
I get to sit and read alongside my students, get transported in my own little world for a few minutes each class, and then talk about it with these young intellectuals. Tell me I don't have it made!