Learning About Our Students as Readers

Over the last few days I have been trying to get to know my new students as readers. At the end of last year I was a walking encyclopedia, a who’s who of book recommendations. Even now, I read a book and immediately think, “I know exactly who would love this”! But a new class means starting over from scratch. While I love the clean slate offered by a new year, it frustrates me that I am not an expert on my students yet!

Yesterday we organized our classroom library as a review of genres. It served as a great way to review genre definitions while also letting the students see the variety of titles the library has to offer. There were a lot of stunned reactions, let me tell ya! While most of my students told me that they dislike reading, I told them that’s just because they haven’t enjoyed the books they read up to this point. I promised to find them a genre, author, or series they will enjoy this year! But it’s hard when I don’t know them yet. :)

Today I booktalked a few “guaranteed” titles before we headed to the school media center; just a few to whet their appetite while I start reading interviews and read their literacy profiles. The titles I talked about today included Life As We Knew It, Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam, The Face on the Milk Carton, Just Grace, Turnabout , and Cirque Du Freak Life As We Knew It was a huge hit, and Cracker! went over well with the war buffs.  Every student left school today with a book.  Even better?  When I ended independent reading today, there were a few soft groans.  I asked for a show of hands, saying “How many of you were annoyed that I interrupted your reading?  How many people didn’t want to stop?”  About hald the class raised their hands.  One boy said, “This has never happened to me before!”

It’s amazing how passion is contagious.  Our kids deserve our passion- whether it be for reading, science, history, geography, math, or anything else.  That passion will spread, as long as our passion is genuine.  That is true teaching.

I’m off to read more reading inventories now, and hopefully get to know my students better!

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5 Responses

  1. What a great post! I wish I was in your class! :D

  2. Sigh.

    I LOVED this part of teaching. I was known in my school for being the teacher to send students to when they claimed to “hate books”. I’ve REALLY missed that this year in my new role. So much so that I ran into a student who I was supposed to have (I was able to do a bit of research on the class I would have had before the end of the year, and I felt I already had him pegged) and told him he simply had to read a book. I’m digging it out of storage to bring him this week.

    I’m very envious of you – I loved getting to know my students as readers!

  3. Hi! I just discovered your blog and really like it. I’m a YA librarian and middle school students are my favorite. It’s so inspiring to see a teacher really investing in kids’ reading and embracing the literature herself. I’m looking forward to reading more! Sarah

  4. [...] Mulhern at The Reading Zone. Sarah’s a teacher, and I get the idea here that she has a passion for helping her students connect with books. I think we’ll connect, [...]

  5. [...] here to get more details.Highlights and Other NewsReading (groan) My favorite post of the week was Learning About Our Students as Readers over at the Reading Zone. Sarah spent some time one morning priming her kids for some great books [...]

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