This summer I discovered an amazing young adult series that started with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I devoured that book and immediately went to the bookstore to buy Catching Fire – the second book in the series. After I finished that in a day (and told all my reader friends that they MUST read these books!), I went online and googled Suzanne Collins. I discovered her website and learned that there was a third book coming out soon. I preordered it online and went on to be a Facebook fan of The Hunger Games site – while I continued to tell anyone that would listen how good these books were. I had great discussions with friends who had already read the books since none of us could stop thinking about the characters and the stories. My mom’s book club even decided to read The Hunger Games based on my excitement. I’m sure many of you have similar stories like this, where you have discovered an excellent book or author and went on to learn as much as you could about them, while sharing them with anyone who would listen.
I started thinking about the kids I teach. Am I sharing my enthusiasm for books and authors? Am I telling them how I stayed up all night reading a book that I couldn’t put down? Am I encouraging them to have a favorite author and to share about the great books they’ve read lately? Am I telling them about my conversations with friends about books we read? Am I showing them what readers do in the world – googling a book, becoming a fan of an author on Facebook, calling up friends and telling them they MUST read a great book?
We want all of our children to be readers. We want them to be able to choose books, read them, and understand them. We want them to love books as much as we do. We want them to have a favorite author and recommend books to their friends. We want them to see how being a reader can help them succeed in the world. If this is to happen, then we need to model what readers do in the world. We can’t get caught up in levels or numbers that may give us valuable information as teachers – but aren’t necessary for kids to focus on. While kids certainly can have a goal like “work on making my reading sound smooth” and be able to articulate this – we don’t think they need a goal like “get 100% on my comprehension test” or “be a level 10”. When we ask a fifth grader what he is reading we want him to tell us a title or favorite author, not “level 40”. It’s up to us to determine what we focus on in our classrooms. And what we focus on is usually what we get.
(Oh, and if you haven’t read the The Hunger Games trilogy – you MUST!!)
Katie & Pat