One of the best things we have done this year in our elementary school is a program called Creating a Community of Readers. Our students are challenged this year to read and complete at least 25 on level novels. But the teachers are challenging themselves as well. I'm amazed at the power a teacher holds in transforming a nonreader into a reader. It's really one of the simplest things you can do. And you don't need a reading degree in order to do it. The simple act of actually reading books and genuinely talking about books with students and other teachers has more power than any skill based commercialized reading program ever will.
Before we started this program, I knew it would be powerful. But little by little we are starting to see the effects of it.
Just the other day, one of the teachers I work with told me a story about one of her students. The student used to hate to read. And this year, she told her teacher that she loves reading and that she has read more books in the first 5 months of school than she has read her entire life.
I found the student later that day and asked her what the difference was. How did she become such an avid reader when she used to hate reading. She said, "It's because I was reading the wrong books. Now I've found books that I want to read."
She told me that before she only read because she was assigned reading. Now she loves getting book recommendations from her friends and teachers. Plus she has learned how to try a book out by reading the book jacket and first few pages to see if it's something she is interested in.
Our principal takes a book (middle grade novels that he will be able to recommend to students later) to lunch with him and reads in the cafeteria as the students are eating lunch. Kids have asked him about the books he reads and they want to borrow his books when he is finished with them.
Teachers post what they have read and are currently reading outside on their door. Just the other day our principal stopped in and asked me if I had an extra copy of Wonder because he overheard a girl saying she really wanted to read it, but all the copies were checked out of our library.
In one room, the students are bringing in their personal copies of books that they want their teacher to read so they can talk about the book together.
It's amazing that just by simply reading and talking about books with students and teachers can transform nonreaders into real readers.
Often in education we make things so complex. We spend millions of dollars on remediation programs and workbooks and computer programs that give us reports and data all so we can "cure" the literacy problem in America, when in reality the answer is so simple.
Just read. (And talk about what you are reading.)
Here is my current list:
25 Book Challenge:
1. The Crossover
2. When You Reach Me
3. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
4. Fish in a Tree
5. The Fourteenth Goldfish
6. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
8. Roller Girl
9. Out of My Mind
10. El Deafo
Want to Read:
The War That Saved My Life
(Reread) The One and Only Ivan
Long Walk to Water
There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom
The Graveyard Book
Whatever After Series
The Thing About Jellyfish
The Year of Billy Miller
The Great Gilly Hopkins
What books are you looking forward to reading in this upcoming year?
We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Sarah Momo Romero.
And 5th Mondays will feature awesomely irreverent and super funny Aussie author Brydie Wright.
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