This post was written by shop owner Geaux Teach Online.
I love to read! I love books, bookstores (especially secondhand ones), and anything to do with reading. E-readers are great, too! I have one that I thoroughly enjoy using, but there’s just something about holding a book in your hand.
This love of reading was fostered in me at a young age by my dad. He always had a stack of books by his bed. Some of my favorite trips with him were when we would walk to the local bookstore and just browse for hours. I try to spread that same love of books to my own children. Yes, much to my wife’s chagrin, there are stacks of books on my nightstand.
In twenty years of teaching, I have also tried to foster a love of books and reading in my students. I have always tried to keep my classroom library well stocked with a variety of texts at many levels. I allow my students to check out books from the classroom library and I often send extra reading material with students who have limited resources at home. I want my students to love books as much as I do!
I believe there is a place for careful study and close examination of the text, but my main goal is to provide my students with a love for reading that will give them a firm literary foundation. I don’t want to steal their joy of reading by making every reading experience a chore, or a task to complete.
The recent trend in “close reading” of both fiction and non-fiction texts has the potential to rob children of the joy of reading, if it is not balanced with a genuine appreciation of books. Okay, before the smoke starts coming out of your ears, I am not saying that close reads are evil, nor do I think they should be banned from schools. As with anything, moderation is the key.
Imagine a diet where you only eat one thing for the rest of your life. Does this sound appealing? If the one thing was chocolate, then we might consider it. No, we now know that a balanced diet is the key to healthful living. Likewise, a balanced reading “diet” is the key to fostering a love of reading.
Incorporating close-read activities with specific texts, yet still allowing for independent reading time, is one way to promote that balanced diet. Not allowing a computer program (you know the one I mean) to limit children’s selection of books is another way to promote a balanced diet.
It all comes down to common sense! As educators, we know what is right for our students. Provide your students with every opportunity possible to explore books and develop a love for reading.
“I cannot live without books.” (Thomas Jefferson)