What I should be doing? (1) Determining fundraiser dates and filling out appropriate paperwork for the school year, (2) packing up miscellaneous items that have been purchased/stored in the house for my classroom, (3) making phone calls to mom to meet up for lunch, (4) working out at the gym, (5) anything else than what I've been doing, which is leisurely sipping coffee and perusing thorough my GReader.
I just finished Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers to ignite my creativity in the classroom. Among other things, author Teri Lesesne (who also blogs about YA books, check her out) shared that, while in the classroom, she set aside every Friday for Free Reading. I've been doing this as well for the past two years, and although at times it can prove to be frustrating trying to cram five days of curriculum into four, I felt it important to allow students to read for pleasure. (Of course, there were measures of accountability, but mainly it was merely telling me a six-word summary about what they read). The goal is obvious, lifelong readers are readers who enjoy reading, not those who are forced to. So, what's the easiest way to get kids to enjoy reading? Allowing them to choose their own books and essentially read for the hell of it.
Naked Reading brings up some scary statistics. For example:
"The average American adult reads fewer than three books per year for pleasure."
"More than 75 percent of teens graduating from high school indicate that they will never read another book again."
How alarming! There is so much to gain from reading, whether that's understanding other cultures (which I have to admit, some of the books that I've been reading has made me realize just how ignorant I am), gaining knowledge about various areas of study (such as sociology, science, psychology, politics), improving vocabulary and writing skills (unsuspectedly even!), living vicariously through character experiences. I mean, you get it right? The list could go on and on and on.
I cringe every year when I open classroom discussion with: "What are your favorite books? What do you like to read? What is your least favorite book?" and here back some variation of "Read? I haven't read a book since my teacher in elementary school read out loud to us!". My classroom is not filled with just reluctant readers (and based on the book's definition, I gather reluctant means those students who will only read assigned texts and nothing further) my students tend to me non existent readers.
There was an interesting discussion over on Becca's blog about the "Secret Club of Readers" that sorta corresponds with my ramblings. What makes some of us readers and others not? Can non-readers turn into voracious readers? Is it as simple as finding 'the right book' for each child to get them hooked? Or even, each adult? And finally, with the increase of hyper-activity and sensory overload via Internet, Video Games, and Television (the three evils?) is reading just to slow and dull for these younger generations?