In high school, I was a voracious reader. I devoured anything and everything. I combed through the library shelves every few days looking for titles that jumped out at me. I had a choice, and so I read.
My love for reading didn’t come from whole class novels or assigned readings. It wasn’t from reading a short snippet and then analyzing. I loved falling to the words, watching them swirl into pictures in my mind. I loved walking down paths that my feet were familiar with. I loved following the adventures of a new experience.
When I fell in love with reading, my comprehension soared along with it. I challenged myself to read harder and harder texts. I pushed myself into the classics, determined to read and understand them. When my reward for reading was intrinsic, it was then I grew.
I want every single student to be able to experience reading the way I did. I know I do not have the perfect road map, but I do have a deep love of reading. It’s that love and passion that I want my students to experience.
When you take away choice, you take away motivation to read. When you take away motivation to read, you are hindering your students. Chances are, their reading abilities will suffer. They will read only because they have to. If they can get by without it, they will.
Passion for reading will fizzle out all too quickly and students will leave the classroom with no inclination to pick up any book.
Donalyn Miller writes of the importance of reading in her book. Reading improves the education of our students. Reading improves the empathy of our students. Reading helps to grow the way our students see and shape their world. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not willing to throw this away just to attempt some semblance of control in my classroom.
I’m accepting that I’m going to have to throw control to the wind, believing firmly that it will be worth it.