This week, one of our required readings was chapters one and two of Book Love by Penny Kittle. First off, I want to say this book is a very interesting read. It is well written so that it covers real situations about students and the classroom. I like that this book is written so that it feels like a conversation rather than a book that just gives facts.
The first chapter discusses a few different situations where students are reading their personal choice in books versus their assigned readings of classical texts. There are the two students who pull out their copies of Fahrenheit 451 and struggle to get through their independent reading time. I remember this happening during my own education. So many classmates would just sit there with their books open or have their phones in their books for the entire reading time. Surprisingly, these students weren’t reading some classical literature that was assigned to them but instead, they were books that they checked out from the library. Looking back, I can see that these students were not monitored enough by teachers as well as did not have a good experience with reading. They may have failed a test on reading or just not have been exposed to the right books that would interest them. From what I can remember, our English teachers never recommended us books. They wanted us to read what was assigned and look in the library for something that looked interesting.
When reading the classics, it can be helpful to the students to show them sections of the text that can assist in teaching. However, teenagers are not going to be interested in a text they can not understand. If a student has to take a majority of their reading trying to understand the words, is it really worth the time? We want students to become good readers so we should allow them to do what good readers do. They need some freedom when it comes to their reading so they are able to not only become good readers, just lifelong readers.
Something else that is important when teaching students reading, is that not every student is going to be at the same level. Students need to start at their level and continue to be pushed in order to build their stamina. This way, they can be able to read higher level books like the classics and actually be able to understand them.