If you’re a bona fide bookphile, this blog may not resonate with you, but we anticipate that many teachers may have fallen out of love with books—or perhaps they do love reading, but feel that they just don’t have the time for it anymore. If this sounds like you, read on because we want to reacquaint you with your inner-reader.
First, though, why must teachers love to read and read often?
- Lundberg and Linnakyla (1993) and Applegate and Applegate (2004) have found a link between the reading habits of teachers and the reading achievement of their students
- Children place a high priority on reading books they hear about from others, most often reporting that they chose a book because their teacher told them about it (Palmer, Codling, & Gambrell, 1994)
- Teachers who read and discuss books recommended by their students give students the impression that their own reading is worth taking seriously (Worthy, Turner, & Moorman, 1998).
There’s plenty more research where that came from, but the three studies we’ve highlighted above are probably enough to drive home the point. In her book, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller offers a few tips to help you reignite the fire; we’d like to share a few of them with you.
5 Ways to Become Reacquainted with Your Inner-Reader
Keep a book with you at all times
We’ve mentioned it before, but one of our colleagues—an English professor and book fanatic—has been known to keep an anthology of literary theory on the passenger seat of his car so that he can read at red lights. While we can’t in good conscience recommend this, we do recommend keeping a book on you at all times. Read on the bus or train; if you drive, rent an audiobook from the library. Polish off a couple of paragraphs while you wait in line at the bank, while you renew your license, or while you’re waiting for the meat to brown on the stove. The day presents you with innumerable opportunities to indulge in your book. Use ‘em wisely.
Choose books that are personally interesting to you
When you read, you want to make it count; you want to learn something so that you can use it later in the classroom. That’s admirable, but this reading plan is about reacquainting you with your inner-reader. Read books that you can’t put down. Stephen King? Yes, please. David Sedaris? Definitely. John Grisham? Give me more and by gosh and don’t ask me to apologize!
If you don’t know what kinds of books you love, stop by GoodReads and find out.
Read more books for children
Voracious readers may seek out books on their own, but most children look to adults to help them find books they’ll love. As we suggested earlier, “children place a high priority on books they hear about from others,” so Miller urges teachers to read more books for children. Not only are children’s books fun, they’re quick reads, and more often than not they have happy endings.
Reading “their” books is a great way to bond with your students. Nothing will inspire them to read more than hearing you say, “I just finished this book last night and I’m positive you’ll love it.”
Take recommendations from students
Reading books that your students recommend shows them that you respect their opinions, but it also helps you build a reading profile. Let me explain: Say that one of your students proclaims his love for Gary Paulson’s book, Hatchet. Chances are that he may also like Jean George’s book, My Side of the Mountain.
As Miller suggests, “By identifying the genres that students avoid reading or by analyzing whether the books that students choose to read are too easy or too hard, you can identify areas in which you can help students grow as readers.”
Share your reading challenges with students
Remember that critically acclaimed, best-selling New York Times novel you abandoned because it was overwrought, disjointed and, well, just plain boring? “This is what the critics are raving about?” you asked yourself.
Tell your students about this reading experience. Admit that you were bored, that you just couldn’t read on. They will be surprised to learn that they’re not the only ones who experience difficulties when reading. As Miller points out, “Students feel inadequate when they have to struggle. Knowing about your reading challenges can help boost their self-esteem.”