All during my elementary teaching years, reading aloud to students was the one thing that I held sacred. No matter the schedule, I always made sure to find time to read to the students. Unfortunately, since moving to the middle and high school, this is something I have not incorporated into my schedule, with the exception of whole novel studies; I truly miss it. I found it interesting, given my own experience, that Penny Kittle also mentioned that this happens in the later grades, as we start to try to get everything taught in the time allotted; we forget that personal reading is just as important.
I know that even before reading this week’s articles, I had already been planning to bring read-aloud back into my classrooms. At times, this may be the only opportunity some students have to become familiar with certain literature. Even though I am not a person who enjoys others reading to me, I know that listening comprehension is important for many students. This needs to be balanced with independent reading to reach as many students as possible.
Book Love chapter 5 talks about the power of “Book Talks”. This is one area that I have been working very hard on this year. With the help of this class, I have been able to recommend more books then ever before and have so far gotten quite a few students to want to read some of the books I have read. I really enjoyed a couple of quotes that were in this chapter. The first one was what she tells her students at the beginning of the year, “Not reading is not an option. I expect my students to read every day and to read a large volume of books” (Kittle 59). I think that is priceless! I agree with her that if you set the bar high, most students will rise to the challenge and engage in the reading. The second quote that was very thought-provoking was when she said, “I wonder sometimes if we treat reading and all things school-if we treat learning-like something so unpleasant and unnatural as to require dog biscuits to get them to do what we want” (Kittle 64). This is so true. Instead of making reading/learning something they want to do, we just dangle the proverbial carrot in front of them to make them do it.
I have taken away a lot of ideas from the Book Love readings this week. From using the books as mentors in writing, to conferencing with a purpose in mind, I feel that I have gained a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have before. Sometimes I feel that I’m finding so many things that I want to incorporate into my teaching that my head is going to explode! I know that I now need to just start slowly putting these new ideas into place, but the main thing I want is for my students to become the types of readers that Kittle has grown in her own classroom. I can only hope to be half the mentor she is to her students.