Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cultivating Readers

100th Day of Kindergarten,
100 Books Read

My daughter and I just left Barnes and Noble. It is the first night of her spring break and she had a gift card to burn.  She's eight, but already knows the value of a $15 gift card.  As she looked at titles, she checked the back for the prices and did the math.  She knew that she could get two paperbacks for the price of one hardback.  With patience you wait until the hardback goes to paper or you go the library. As we left, she said, "I'm going to ask for Barnes and Noble gift cards for Christmas." She didn't speak to me on the way home and we didn't listen to music. When I turned around to check if she had fallen asleep, I caught her with her nose in one of her new books. I often do.

She was born into a world where she had over 200 picture books.  Books were always there for her, even in the womb.  If kids are listening in utero, I am sure that she was lulled to sleep there by tales of Romeo and Juliet, Ginny and Smitty, and other characters who often haunt freshmen English classrooms.  I see her dad's influence on her book choices too.  She loves graphic novels, The Walking Dead and BabyMouse, and she loves slapstick as evidenced by her love of  The Diary of A Wimpy Kids series and Big Nate

 One of my favorite things about being a parent and a reading coach is watching my child develop into a reader. I've always had a secret fear that she wouldn't and maybe she won't choose it later, but now she does. I'll enjoy it. I'll enjoy it along with the discovery that my 1st period students have read over 372 books this year, my 2nd period, 235, and my third period, 325 so far this year.  Many of them stocked up this week knowing that spring break started today.  One of them even came after school was over while most kids were gleefully exiting the building.

At Family Literacy night, Miguel's mom was glad that BN gift cards were prizes as she is having a hard time keeping him in books.  Teens just don't have expensive tastes for electronics; teen readers are expensive to support.  Just ask any reading or English teacher who maintains a classroom library.  Just ask any parent who has one.  I think that is why I love my job the most, the opportunity to help teen readers bloom.

Most of my students don't see themselves as readers in August.  By spring, the time of the year, they  do.  They anxiously chart their progress.  They make recommendations to others. They ask for more suggestions.  They can articulate their likes and dislikes.  They just don't say, "I hate reading." 

After spring break, we will have nine weeks left.  Unlike my daughter, with teen readers, I only have a year to cultivate their love of reading.  There's still plenty of work to do. I'll welcome it after this upcoming week's opportunity to renew.


  1. What a wonderful celebration of success! How amazing what can happen in one school year with a good teacher like you. I sympathize with keeping teens in books. Happily my two oldest can walk to the public library from their middle and high schools. The wonderfully responsive librarians there keep the town teens well supplied!

  2. Love the book picture! Yay for raising readers!


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