Are you thinking that I’m a hot-head by now, post #2 referencing hair on fire? Haha, not the case! But I’ll continue my writing reflection of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire by Rafe Esquith, this time from Part 2: The Method – Reading for Life.
Seems like there’s a pretty good division of reader types – those that love to read and those that really don’t. For the readers, it may be hard to understand how some don’t enjoy reading. It’s a skill that some pick up more easily than others, and I believe this brings the division, as in other areas. This happens in math – those that have natural “math brains” vs those who keep to the basics and know where to find help, in the arts – those often considered ‘gifted’ because of a skill set that comes naturally vs those who wish they could draw a circle or sing a song without sideways glances, and of course don’t forget about the athletes – all of those coordinated, physically capable people out there some at the high demand to even be scouted for these God-given talents.
Reading is a skill absolutely necessary for life, for success, and is needed everywhere. What to do? Start early! This could even pose a challenge for adult ‘non-readers’ that now have young children. Take the challenge and read to and along with them. It may turn in to a favorite activity because it brings you close, figuratively and literally, especially at the youngest of ages.
Next step – classrooms! There’s print everywhere and where there isn’t, place it. Word walls, labels, signs, directions – saturate your classroom with print. As students age, continue with read-aloud and make personal choice reading a priority. And a bonus…readers make the best writers because they are developing print saturated brains. Then the writing comes from a word bank that continues to grow through more reading. Reading in, writing out!
Something I love about the fourth grade age is that many levels of readers are still being developed quite often by example and encouragement. At my school, we open up the genre choices through book reports – fiction, biography, fantasy, mystery, theme books (such as Texas), which all give students a purposed opportunity to try something new. (The biography genre is most often a new discovery and a favorite.) Sharing is important, too. Once one person accepts a recommendation, it brings the readers together for an experience. Action steps to share reading? Kidblog and Edmodo groups have been incredible. I’ve used Kidblog for reading responses and Global Read Aloud through Edmodo. I also started a classroom account on Biblionasium.com but didn’t do much with that last year. It’s on my list this year. I have higher hopes for success now that my grade has 1 to 1 iPads.
Back to my author reference from the beginning, Rafe Esquith, for a rich quote to close.
“Young people who read for pleasure are able to make connections with the world around them and eventually grow to understand themselves on levels they never thought possible. They make associations between characters and situations that can shape their own decisions.” (p. 42)
What’s something that encouraged you as a young reader? What’s something you do in your classroom to strengthen a love for reading?