I am a reader. I love books, I love wandering through bookstores and libraries. I love to go to used book stores, library sales, garage sales…. and yes, even online to Amazon and Indigo. I love reading picture books, chapter books, biographies, suspense and even young adult. I have read the Hunger Games series, all the Harry Potter books, the Divergent series and so much more.
It should not be surprising that this love of reading is something I try to share with my class. When I came to my new school – my library of over 250 books came with me. For me, there is nothing more exciting than sharing a book that I love with my students and getting them hooked on the book too. I could not wait to introduce my new class to their new class library of books that I would be sharing with them this year.
It was a hard thing for me to swallow when one of my boys on the second day of school came up to me and said point blank, “I don’t really like reading. I’m not that good at it.” I honestly didn’t know what to say at first. This was only the second day of school – I had just introduced this amazing library of books I had, the rest of the kids were going crazy looking at all the books and he came up with this statement. And he was serious, he was not going to pick a book because reading was just something in his mind that he was not good at, so why bother. I explained to him that I thought it was sad that he thought this way and that maybe perhaps reading was something he wasn’t good at yet. So I made this my challenge that I was going to try and reboot this vision he had of himself as a reader.
I did my best to try to find ways to reach him because I firmly believed that he had just not found a book that spoke to him yet, that excited him. I went to the bookstore and bought a bunch of high interest, easier vocabulary books. I went to the library and took out a ton of books on cd and got a cd player for him to listen to books on. I downloaded a bunch of Ipad apps that had books that could be read to him and he could listen to. And for the first few weeks of school, he and I read together a LOT. He was not confident reading a book independently, he wanted me by his side to assure him that yes those were the right words he was reading. We talked about all the different strategies he could use to help him read books.
I would like to say things magically changed in those first few weeks, but it didn’t. It was a long road with some bumps along the way, where he would lose confidence and we would again read together and I would praise him on how he was coming along in his journey as a reader. (I have spoken in an earlier post about the SLA’s and how they negatively affected some of my students’ views of themselves – he was one of these students. SLA’s almost put us almost back to square one.)
So, today it was day two of indoor recesses. My kids know that indoor recess means the maker bins can come out and they can create away. As long as they work together, share and get along – the maker bins are there for them and they LOVE them. It was a huge surprise to come back early and find my student, the one who said he was not a reader, sitting in the cozy corner with a book. I actually commented on how I was surprised he was spending his free time reading a book and not doing maker bins, which is something I know he usually loves. He replied to me very matter of factly, “I just wanted to read my book Mrs. D. You know Captain Underpants is a really funny guy.” It took all within me not to jump up and hug him, so instead I smiled and agreed. However inside I was doing the Snoopy dance because he had seen what I knew, that books are so much fun to read and he was a reader after all.