More Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adults
I just read an amazing blog post by Pernille Ripp about the reading rules we impose on kids which we would never impose upon adults. I immediately asked her if I could write a sequel, and she has graciously invited me to do so.
Our goal as reading teachers can really be summed up in one phrase: to help create life-long readers. If we do that, we did our job. But, how many of us have consistently set arbitrary rules for our students that required them to do things which did not match this goal? I know I have. In her post, Pernille lists removing choice, forced reflection, competition, and several others. I’d like to add a few more.
Connecting Reading and Punishment – Reading and punishment should be as far away from each other as possible. Unfortunately, they are sometimes grouped together, and the damage can be devastating. A student who is in trouble might be told, “Instead of doing the fun activity, you have to sit here and the only thing you can do is read,” or “You didn’t fill out your reading log, so you have to make up that reading time at recess.” Will this make a child read more that day? Yes. But by associating reading and punishment, that child will read less in the future.
No Reading Ahead! – In what world do adult readers read the first three chapters of a fiction book and then stop for a few days until their group can meet to discuss? No. Nobody…not with fiction. Fiction book clubs attended by adults read the whole book and then meet. Instead, we get kids going in a book club or literature study group and then completely break their flow. Sometimes, they can’t ever get that flow back.
Denigrating T.V. and Movie Connections – We need books about SpongeBob, X-Men, and Disney movies in our classroom libraries, yet I hear some educators talk about how they don’t stock these because they are not “quality literature.” It’s usually true that the writing in these books is less than stellar, but this is not a reason to deem them unworthy for our classrooms. Adults often read a book because they saw the movie or vice versa. If we want kids to love reading, we should encourage all types of reading.
Assigned Library Days – This one is often impossible to avoid. Whether your school calls it “special class,” “related arts,” or something else, a weekly visit to the school library is often on the school’s master schedule. This doesn’t make sense; adults go to the library whenever they need to. Still in the middle of your book? We’re going anyway. Finish your book in two days? You’ll have to wait. Adults don’t visit the library like this. Our school libraries should be places where students can visit as needed.
Thanks again to Pernille Ripp for encouraging me to continue this discussion. It’s important for all of us to consistently reflect on what we are doing and the decisions we have made.