On Friday I gave Isaiah, one of my students, a reading test. He had to read a story and then answer some comprehension questions. Part of the test is also to talk about your "reading life." The question is meant to see whether or not the student sees reading as an integral and necessary part of his or her life.
At the end of the test, I asked Isaiah the reading life question: "Do you prefer to read to yourself or listen to a story out loud?"
Isaiah happily responded, "Oh, I like to read to myself because when you listen to a story, you have to think about what you are hearing. Then people ask you questions and stuff, and they want you to really listen. But when you read to yourself, you don't have to think about it; you can just read the words."
Isaiah's response is saddening on many levels. First, he believes that being read to is a painful experience full of right and wrong answers. This is a sharp contrast to my feelings about listening to books. I love being read to and wish there were more opportunities for adults to sit and read to one another. Maybe music is the rhytmic substitute for reading aloud; however, it's incredibly binding to have someone read to you. Second, Isaiah believes that reading should just be "reading the words." There's no meaning to be discovered, no connections to be made. Just words.
When I meet children who haven't discovered the thrill of reading, I am always floored. As someone who cried in front of her class while reading Bridge to Terabithia
, the hardest part of teaching reading is teaching the joy
of reading. Sure, I can teach you to read words, understand setting, plot, and character, but can I have you get all excited when you see your favorite author's on the cover of a book? That's difficult.
One way that I try to show why reading is important to me is by reading voraciously. That's not so hard for me since I read anything and everything put into my hands. This morning, I'm going to curl up with Myla Goldberg's recent novel Wickett's Remedy
. Although I don't feel as connected to the characters in this book as I did to those in Bee Season
, I am still enjoying Goldberg's latest. Publisher's Weekly referred to Wickett's Remedy
as "an accomplished but peculiarly tensionless historical novel." This is somewhat true; however, it is still a good read and I'm throughly engrossed in it.
Tomorrow when my class shares what they did over the weekend, I'm going to tell them about the book that I read. My wish is that my love of reading will transfer over to Isaiah and his classmates. One can only hope.
The Decemberists: Myla Goldberg (live)