I Will be a Reading Warrior

As a teacher, I love to read and I love to take the time to try to develop a love of reading in my students.  I have written before about the power of books that when we do it right, can help guide a student on his journey to love books too. But too often, we teachers get lost in things like reading tests and curriculum, get worried about whether we have enough time to do things like stop and read a book to our kids. At my school, we are mandated by our district to do reading tests to level our students so that we know who our kids are as readers when they walk in the door. For me, I will tell you the truth, I have yet to look at those June results because I refuse to put my students in a box. When they walk in the door I talk about how much I love reading and how I hope they will love reading as much I as I do.  I show them my class library of over 500 books, none of which are leveled, I organize my bins in a variety of ways – authors, themes, genres.  My picture book bins, thanks to the nerdy club people, have been slowly taking over a section of my class library and were a favorite by my students last year. I talk a lot about to my students about how we are all in a different spot on our reading journey – that yes, some will be farther than others and that’s okay.  As long as we all love reading, it does not matter that this person read 5 books this month and that person only read 1, that this person read a really hard chapter book and that person read 3 picture books. I tell them that even I like to read picture books because they are fun to read and that is okay. I tell them that it is okay to abandon a book if you are not connecting to it, but that it is important to give it a chance and not give up within the first few pages. I talk quite a bit about what are the different ways we can choose a book and what we can look for so we make a good book choice. I tell my students all I ask is that they are ready to really talk about their books when I come do a book talk with them or when I ask them to do a book buzz with a friend/group that they can tell what they like about this book, who is a character that they are really finding interesting or liking/disliking, tell whether they could recommend this book to a friend and why.  To me, this is the true gauge of whether or not they are understanding the book they are reading. It took this speech by the great Pernille Ripp (and if you don’t follow her blog posts you are crazy!) that made me realize I am ready to step up and be a reading warrior for kids.  It made me realize that it is not enough that I do all these things in my classroom.  It’s easy for me to do this in my classroom, but its time to take it a step further and step outside my classroom door. I need to speak up and not be afraid to stand by what I do.  I need to talk to my grade partners at the beginning of the year and when they ask if we are doing reading logs this year, tell them no and tell them why we shouldn’t.  I need to not be afraid to share how I set up my class library with colleagues in my school so they can see how well it is working that I give my students the opportunity to choose books that speak to them vs bins labeled A-Z. I will explain to my admin why I will not promote a levelled online reading program to my parents because I believe there are better ways to help our developing readers. I will promote like crazy things like Dot Day, Global Readaloud, Read around the World, Skype with Authors so that other kids in my school and even my district can get excited about reading. I will be a reading warrior, not only for my kids, but other kids too because if it means someone else might take a chance to try something new to promote a love for reading for their kids, then how that can be a bad thing. Will this be accepted by all – maybe, maybe not?  Will others think I am crazy?  Will they disagree with me?  That could and probably will happen. Will it be easy, nope, not at all but I believe in these things and am ready to fight for kids. I am ready to be a reading warrior and stand my ground.  Wanna join me? (P.S.  You might wonder why I added in this specific youtube link – but I felt any good warrior needs a theme song and why not this one courtesy of Big Hero 6 from Disney Pixar)

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5 thoughts on “I Will be a Reading Warrior

  1. carriegelson

    The part that speaks to me here is not all of the things you do in your classroom – although they are wonderful and most importantly, such fantastic ways to help your readers grow – it is your talk about speaking up that resonates. This is the hard thing. But, probably, as important as all of the work we do inside our rooms. Of course, it is easy when everyone is open to talking about how our practice is working or not working for kids. But, when we need to raise things about how changes might need to be considered, that is so much more difficult. And when others are not even open at all to thinking differently . . . I feel very alone at my school with my literacy program. I am the only classroom teacher that runs a Reading Workshop model. My teacher librarian who also does resource works in my room with me every morning for the RW time. She and I are both “fully in” and have incredible conversations and are constantly reevaluating and making changes responsive to student need. I know how very lucky I am to have this connection and relationship. Your post is making me think about how to bring up these conversations with others – trying again because we have tried before and got nowhere. This is why I so treasure my online PLN – I get to have those rich, reflective conversations and do so much learning. I would love to know how your fall goes and how your conversations go . . . Let’s keep in touch!

    Reply
    1. catherined2014 Post author

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing librarian who believes in many of the things I do and works with me as well. But, like you, I feel like I’m on my own in this and last year, being the new teacher on staff, I didn’t feel confident enough to speak up. This year I am going to take a step outside my comfort zone because I do feel it’s important. Good luck and I hope we keep in touch.

      Reply
  2. kwhobbes

    Like all passionate teachers, being able to share that passion with students is so important. Being able to discuss it and bring it to life in the classroom is so important. As you connect and find a voice, joining with others who are passionate helps us to see beyond the classroom to the larger community. I applaud the steps you have taken to become a reading warrior with passion. To often, our passions are not allowed voice nor are we encouraged to give voice through the work that we do. I also love your warrior theme song!

    Reply

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