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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Motivated Readers For Life

Photo by Naydeeyah

The mission of Literacy Launchpad is to motivate and empower children to be lifelong readers. I hope that goal is being achieved. But Literacy Launchpad is only four years old, so I don't yet know if the impact Literacy Launchpad will have lasting effects. I suppose I may never know... But I have heard encouraging reports from parents and teachers of some of my students, and that makes me happy. I bring this up not to toot my own horn...

I believe that introducing children to the joys of reading early on is so important. I love what I do. But what's frustrating is that I have little to no control over my students' literary experiences once they graduate from Literacy Launchpad. Will they continue to have teachers that love and value reading? Will they have access to quality literature? Will they be provided with plenty of opportunities to spend time lost in a book? 

I've been wondering lately what I can do to have more of an impact on my students' reading future. Launching them in the right direction is a good start. But can I do more? Research continues to show that the number of children who read for pleasure drops significantly as they get further into grade school. How can this be happening?

My instincts tell me that reaching out to and educating parents is key. I think that major changes need to happen in our schools though too, obviously. Some ideas on things that probably need change:

  • Less force feeding of the classics, and more freedom in reading choices
  • More time for reading in the school library.
  • Change the way we train teachers, or the amount of training we provide teachers in the area of reading instruction. 
Funny story - I had many education majors in my literature and library media classes in college, and I was amazed at the moaning and groanings that came out of some of them over being assigned books like Harry Potter and Coraline to read. They didn't seem the least bit interested in our reading assignments, and during one particular class, one of the education majors uttered the unbelievable during a book discussion, "I don't really like reading." What?? I can understand that not everybody loves reading, but if you're going to be an elementary teacher, you better!!
Perhaps we can't force future teachers to love reading (Or maybe we can?). But if we empower them with more knowledge about the importance of raising up readers, maybe we'll be moving in the right direction. 

Those are simply a few ideas for change. It's easy to complain about what's wrong, but not so easy to make it right. This is the part where I ask for your ideas! Are there ways you're working for a change? Ways you're helping children stay readers for life? Or maybe you just have some ideas of things we can all do to help make a change. Share it in the comments.

I seriously want to hear your ideas. I want to get out there and make a difference!

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