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. ūüôā

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!