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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Don't Teachers Like Reading?

I am convinced that there is a large number of elementary school teachers out there that do not like reading. Or maybe just don't love it. Or is it that they simply don't know how to pass on the passion? What other explanation is there for why more children don't enjoy this pastime?

I'm especially bent out of shape about this today because I've been reading Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer while battling through trite reading logs with one of my children, and wading through mounds of ditto sheets that come home with them everyday. I hate, hate, hate the reading homework my child has to do. It benefits them in no way. All they're learning is that reading is boring and frustrating, and that homework stinks!

Why would someone that loves reading assign such homework? Especially when there is heaps of research indicating that time simply spent reading books of their own choosing (a student's choosing) is way more beneficial? Maybe there are a lot of teachers that aren't familiar with this research? But why aren't they familiar with it when books like The Book Whisperer are full of this info? Why aren't teachers who love to read, reading books like The Book Whisperer? And The Read Aloud Handbook?

Formal reading instruction is not my forte. My thing is motivating readers! So it's tough to see my child schlup through their reading homework week after week, obviously not enjoying any of it.

I didn't think I was going to have to worry about this kind of stuff. I thought I would be homeschooling my children. But that's not in the cards for my family right now, and so my task is now to do all that's in my power to show my children that reading is the bomb! And that they will be readers soon! I am all about supporting my children's teachers, but I also have a responsibility as a parent. I'm not saying we won't do the assigned homework (though with the crazy home life we have right now, that often happens), but I will tell my children the truth: that I don't like some of their homework assignment (while also explaining the good intentions the teacher had in assigning it), and that this is not what reading really is. Then I will spend as much time as I can taking them to the library, finding books that will interest them, and setting aside plenty of time at home to read with them. Oh, and being a reading role model too, of course!

How do you encourage a passion for reading as a parent? As a teacher? As a librarian? What books do you think should be required reading for teachers?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Budding Reading Interests

Since we welcomed two Ethiopian children into our family five months ago, I have been befuddled and unsure of how to get them interested in books. Neither of them can read yet, and our ESL teacher has actually strongly encouraged me not to do formal reading instruction (like phonics) with them till next fall.

Now that they're understanding English better and better each day, I have seen their interest in books start to bud. This is very encouraging to me!

We've been doing bedtime reading since they first came home (I remember my son asking me to read him a grocery store flyer one night when he still didn't understand much English). I also read to them at the lunch table on the weekends from time to time. And I try to read in front of them as much as possible, but there's not much opportunity for that (they keep me hopping).

We visit the library pretty regularly, and I'm excited for us all to participate in the summer reading program. Both my older kids recently got their own library cards and were pretty excited about that. Although, they are still more enthusiastic about checking out movies than they are about checking out the books.

I found a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid at a yard sale and starting reading that aloud to them recently. They are enjoying that, even laughing aloud at it. I just added the movie to our Netflix queue so we can watch it when we finish the book.

We had family come visit last week and my niece brought along a Calvin and Hobbes book. Both kids really liked that. My son especially liked it, even asking me to read it to him when he came home from school one day! (I don't ever get reading requests except at bedtime!) So now we need to go find some Calvin and Hobbes at the library... or maybe the Easter Bunny will deliver some.