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The Reluctant Reader

I know it’s not a contest or anything, but I bet that when I began teaching language arts I had read fewer books of any kind than any other language arts teacher in the history of public education.  I never liked reading as a kid, but I can vividly remember the first time I took my students down to our antique, two-sizes-too small library to check out books.  With the signatures on my diploma still wet, I was excited to begin working with my students on all of the great teaching strategies that I had learned in college to improve their reading skills.

Once we got to the library the students mechanically slipped into a chair at one of the tables in the room to await further instructions.  Eagerly I explained that they could pick any book they wanted to read; they didn’t have to read something just because I told them they had to.  I guess I was thinking I would get a standing ovation from the students because I had just liberated them from the reading tyrants that had enslaved their whole educational career, making them read boring and uninteresting books.  I was surprised when I received a series of moans and rolling of the eyes as students unenthusiastically got up to select a book.

As the students aimlessly roamed around the library I began to realize that they didn’t know what book they should pick.  What’s worse is I realized I did not know what to encourage them to read.  I, a non-reader myself, was a fraud. How could I recommend books when I hadn’t read any? Well, I’d read maybe 8 in junior high that I could tell them were great, or at least not half bad, but that was almost ten years ago.  Would these students actually find those books interesting? Read More 

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