This year has been an interesting one. It's only my third year teaching third grade but this year was so vastly different than the previous two. Being in a new school is just part of it. This group just didn't come alive for books like my previous classes have. I remember last year, I had told my class I couldn't wait to get home one day because I was so excited to finish reading this book that I was reading. They, in turn, were so excited to share their books with me. That has not happened this year. Most of my students will continue to tell you that they find reading to be incredibly boring. I have said to them often that if they don't like to read, it's probably because they just haven't found the type of books they like yet. But is is very discouraging to have a whole group of students who at 9 years old are so disinterested in books.
When I was a child, if I got into trouble, my parents didn't ground me from the television or from playing outside with friends. They grounded me from my books. (I know, that sounds so horrible to me as an adult, but to be fair, it's the only thing that got through to me too. I couldn't have cared less if I got grounded from TV, I rarely watched it then--and still rarely do now!--and if I was grounded from being outside, I could just read so it wasn't really a punishment.) Why do children not love books as much anymore?
Well we know one reason: technology. iPads and other tablets, more than three channels on the television and social media have taken the place of reading. It kills me a little to be honest. I also think a big part of it is that children do not see their parents reading either. It probably won't surprise you to find out that my mother is an avid reader. She devours books, reading 15-20 a month. (I wish I had that kind of time!) I can't ever remember a day growing up that I didn't see my mom reading at one point during the day. In other words, it was modeled for me.
Recently I went to a focus group about the Third Grade Reading Law in Michigan. One of the biggest arguments I have about this law is that the accountability is 100% on the schools/teachers. Parents are, first and foremost, their child's teacher and I would argue the most important teacher. The examples we provide by reading to our children are so important. Lap time, just looking through books even when the child is too young to read, talking about the pictures and sharing what we are reading (as appropriate) with our children is important.
Way too many adults I know can't name the last book they read or even tell when they last read a book, but we wonder why our children can't read. I certainly don't wonder. I often tell my students that the time we spend reading at school is not enough, they have to practice at home if they want to be good readers. Unfortunately not all of them listen to that advice.
Then there is me. I am beyond stoked that in just a couple of weeks we will be out of school for the summer. Not because I hate my job or don't like my students, but because I am going to have hours upon hours of free time that I haven't had in years to just read! (Over winter break I read 10 books because I had time to.) I have a huge list of professional books that I've been buying but haven't had time to devour and now I will. I have been reading for pleasure like crazy since I finished grad school. I just wish there was some way to instill this zest and love for words with my class, because as often as I talk about the books I'm reading and how I'm so excited to get my hands on a new book I've been waiting for, they just do not share my excitement and I find that to be incredibly sad and discouraging.
Check out what I'm currently reading: