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What the Kardashians Taught Me About Reading Instruction


reading instructionSlavoj Žižek is one of our favorite philosophers and cultural critics for a variety of reasons. For one, he’ll talk about anything—the Kardashians, Batman, toilets, the painting hanging behind the President during a television broadcast, whatever—so long as he can use that cultural artifact to help readers understand nearly impenetrable Lacanian theories. For another, he’s brilliant.

We’re not here to talk about Lacan or Žižek , but what we’d like to share does have something to do with a ubiquitous cultural artifact: The Kardashians.  We just came across a blog post by Christopher Lehman called “What the Kardashians Taught Me About Reading Instruction.” Like Žižek , Lehman uses an amusing analogy (or cultural artifact) to illustrate something substantive and intellectual.

What do the Kardashians have to do with reading instruction?  Lehman’s explanation is simple and makes sense:

Branding  yourself as a reading role model
“Kim Kardashian is on television, social media, billboards, magazines, ads on sides of buses, even Oprah. Love her or hate her, she is everywhere. And everywhere she shows up she is styled to be glamorous, branded to be the very fashionable friend you maybe, just maybe could have in your life if you shopped at the same places and bought the same things. We [teachers] need to take a lesson from Ms. K and brand ourselves as readers just as carefully so our students have that vision to aspire to.”

Here are a few tips for branding yourself as a reader:

  • Have a predictable opening line
    My friend Audra, for example, quite regularly begins conversations by asking, "What are you reading?" She has done that so often with me that I have started doing the same thing with others. It's as catchy as a catch phrase.
  • Any press is good press, as long as it's press
     Don't think you can only talk about reading when you've just finished a great book. Even talking about how hard you are finding it to make time to read, or how you just can't find a good book, is still a book conversation: "I have four half-read books on my Kindle that I just can't seem to find the time to read. I'm particularly feeling bad about Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, because Melody, the main character just shocked her entire class and I'm nervous to find out what will happen next..." Ta-da, you're talking about reading. Even if you feel ashamed.
  • Post your reading life anywhere you can
    Place an "I'm currently reading..." white-board on your classroom/office/bedroom door. Post reviews on Twitter or Goodreads or Nerdy Book Club or anywhere you can think to. Wallpaper your room with book covers from books you have read or want to read next. Be as annoying-mazing with your branding as a Kardashian SlimFast ad followed by a Kardashian perfume ad followed by a preview of their next super new episode. Be everywhere.

This is only a brief excerpt of the article; to read the rest of Lehman’s post, stop by The Book Whisperer.



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