Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I would recommend that every person involved in literacy instruction read the book Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it by Kelly Gallagher.  (Link courtesy of  Amazon)  This book describes what we as teachers are doing to extinguish the love of reading in our students. 

Now I never thought what I was teaching would extinguish the love of reading, and I'm sure you don't either.  But have you ever interrupted students in the middle of a passage to ask if they knew what was going on?  Have you ever given study questions to "help" with understanding?  I have --lots of times.  And while there is a time and place for that sort of instruction, we don't give enough time to reading for reading's sake--the sort of pleasure reading you and I do automatically. 

Kids don't get the time now to just read for fun.  If it's not going to be tested, maybe we don't have time for it--that's the prevailing attitude.  And with good reason--we teachers are scared to death of test results.  Our jobs, our livelihoods depend on these tests--often with circumstances we can't control.  So we control what we can--our instructional time.  Time must be alloted to those test skills.

But what about the good old fashioned notion of reading something because we love it?  I hear kids say all the time how much they "hate" to read.  I think it's a matter of they haven't found the right materials yet because I also have seen a student pick up the right book--whatever it might be--and read it straight through.

For some kids the right book is a novel--a sappy romance or a mystery.  For some, it's a nonfiction book on sports, cars or animals.  For some it might be graphic novels.  None of these books lend themselves to being tested so we try to restrict our students to the "classics", the ones we've always taught.  The ones we know we can ask questions about.....in a test......

Now don't get me wrong. There's a time and place for this sort of instruction.  As an educated society, we all need to know what references to Shakespeare mean.  Or we need to have read certain novels to have a cultural basis together.

But my point is don't let the fun reading get lost in this instructional time.  Make it a point to give kids time for pleasure reading so you're not guilty of Readicide like I used to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment