Have I mentioned lately that I’m student teaching? Yep, that’s happening. I get to work with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade struggling readers every morning. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling people. But the truth is that some of them are getting to be great readers, they just aren’t at the same level as their peers when it comes to decoding big, scary words! (Adventure has been one such word lately…)
I wonder if I should be calling my fellow elementary education majors who struggle to pick up a book for fun the “struggling readers.” I don’t just want my kids to be able to read. I want them to absolutely love to read. Being able to read is necessary and good, but learning to love to read is excellent because it transforms lives, changes the world…
How do I know that reading is this powerful? I experience it often, and I talk to those who agree. I recently read The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller, who challenges her sixth grade students to read 40 books in a year.
So often these students have never read more than 2 or 3 books in a year, but she’s never had a student leave with less than 23 completed in her year of teaching! She plants the seeds for life-long readers; and I want to be the lower elementary equivalent of that in my mornings as I student teach.
I also know that reading is powerful because of personal experience. Sometimes I finish a book and I feel like I was just run over by a truck because of the emotional or intellectual weight of ending that reading journey. This weekend I completed Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco Stork) and experienced just that. When I read the last page, I promptly closed the book, put it on a shelf, and went for a walk which turned into a 2 hour adventure around Orange City. I loved the book so much because I was certain as I read it that I was in the story. To experience the end of this story was painful, and I needed distance from it. Hence the walk/adventure.
I pray that my elementary school kids will become readers who need two hours to recover from their latest novels 20 years from now. It’s a beautiful thing.