Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Losing the Magic #SOLC15 - 3/18

This morning I was reading over some of the late-night slicers, and came across this fantastic slice about a little boy who whole-heartedly believes in the magic.  I started thinking about the magic I still believe in, and I think it all comes from books.  I LOVE to read.  Love. It.  And I'd like my students to still have some magic in their lives.

Out of 145 students, ages 14-18, I think I might have 4 that like to read.  Or rather, four that will openly admit to it.  Why?  How does this happen?  Where are we losing these kids?  We took some of our volleyball girls to read to a pre-K class and those kids LOVED it.  They love to read.  And yet, the whole bus ride back to the high school, the girls were talking about how much they hated reading.  I would say maybe through elementary, most kids love to read.  Where, when, and why are we losing that magic?  Why are my teens suddenly so turned off by it?

Typically, I tell my students, you don't hate to read, you just haven't found what you like yet.  I keep a small "library" (more like a small cluster) in my class of all kinds of books to recommend to my kids.  Every year when the public library has their huge sale, I buy as many books as I can from different genres.  I even stock some comics and magazine for those with lower attention spans.  But for the life of me, I cannot find a way to get them to *WANT* to read.

On the very rare "catch-up" day I allow, if students are caught up in my class, they can work on something for another teacher, or they can do something "academic".  I do let them draw.  I do allow Trivia Crack because they are learning when they play (shhh! don't tell them!)  But I recommend they read, and I recommend a book to those who don't have anything.  There is just SO MUCH resistance!!

Student: No thanks, I don't read.
Me: I have all kinds of things...
Student: No, I really hate to read.
Me: I have magazines! Body builders, motorcycles, runners, seventeen, seventeen latina edition, cars, camping, fashion, home decoration...
Student: Nah. I'm good.

This morning, it is cloudy and cool, the windows in the house are open to let in that fresh morning breeze.  On the porch, there are freshly planted flowers and a swing.  I know I should stay inside and be social.  We did come here to visit my brother and his girlfriend, after all... but that swing is calling to me.  I just want to sit outside and READ!  I want to smell that freshly turned dirt, listen to the birds, and get lost in a story.  When it rains, it makes me want to read.  When it's sunny, I want to sit in the sun and read.  When I see big fluffy chairs, I think to myself, that would be an awesome reading chair.

Maybe it's me that has the problem.  Do other people have "reading chairs"?  Do they walk into book stores and libraries and feel the joy I feel?  I just don't think I can be alone out there.  And if it is a problem, how do I pass this problem on to kids who just want to text and tumble and play games on their phones?

Since posting this, I read this post that really took me back to those "good old days".  We might have a discussion about where they used to like to read and maybe that will spark some nostalgia for them and lure them back to books. 


  1. Personally, as a loooong time first grade teacher...I think starting to teach them to read in K and before (I mean formally), and then advancing them too quickly in first and second is the culprit. My first years teaching, the first graders didn't know all the letters, yet they were ready to learn and we got them to the second grade level just fine. They went on to be readers. Now we are afraid if we don't start early enough they can't possibly learn to read well and enjoy it. Mind you, we ALWAYS read to them aloud, and many times it was language for 4th grade readers. They could understand it, and it gave them a deep desire to want to read these someday on their own. We are pushing so hard, it is squeezing all the fun out of it too early - and thus we have teen "non-readers" - not that they can't, just that they don't. To rekindle? Hmmm. Have you read Deb Day's blog. She has some good advice a lot of times: Coffee With Chloe.

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I was trying to remember a time that I just dreaded reading and I can't think of one. It's crazy they are starting so young. Do y'all do anything with reader's choice? The only things I can remember just hating was having to read certain books: Scarlet Letter (I like it better now), Animal Farm, The Clergyman's Daughter, and Hatchet are a few I can think of.

  2. My Slice yesterday was a short poem about how reading was magical to me.

    It's hard to see how many young people don't like to read. I've always been one to even push my adult friend who "don't like to read" to read. I feel like if I can just find out what they'll be able to get into. I've succeeded with one.

    I admire you for your efforts with your students. Keep trying!

    Also, it's pretty awesome you let them play Trivia Crack. I even ind myself learning from it. You sound like an amazing, caring teacher. Keep it up!

    1. I hadn't heard of it until they started asking me questions to help them beat their friends and I couldn't figure out why they wanted to know. They would ask like they were just curious or something. I'm glad they found an app that has more use than flappy bird or crossy road.

      I've been working on a few non-reader friends, but so far, no luck. Keep fighting the fight with me! haha

  3. Have you read Penny Kittle's Book Love? She has a lot of smart things to say about why kids stop reading. For me, this is the number one job of English teachers, or should be: helping kids build strong literate lives in and out of school. It's a great idea to have a talk with your students about when they used to love books (because they all did at one time or another) and what happened. The answer to what happened is actually really simple: school happened, and all the poisonous things we do to kids' reading lives in schools. And I'm fully with you about reading--it's by far my favorite thing to do.