“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” – Richard McKenna
So often as teachers we get preoccupied with the “learning” of the skill, that we inadvertently miss the “loving” of the learning. This year this concept has been my driving thought in my lessons. I began to explore what I could do to ensure that not only did my students learn how to do something, but they developed an interest in it. I truly believe our end goal as teachers should be creating life long learners. In a conversation with an expert in literacy this summer, I had an epiphany about what I wanted my teaching motto to be, this is where Love to, Learn to, Choose to was born. I believe students interest “Love” in a topic will drive their desire to learn.
This interest is imperative in students own motivation to get reading. Which for struggling readers seems to be the key. This year I have attempted to find the books and topics that students would be interested in and get those books in the hands of my students who would find them interesting. This often involves a lot of “book selling”, which I love.
I believe in the power of good books. Like anything it simply takes an introduction. Introducing my students to books is one of my favourite things to do. I talk about the book enough to wet their appetite but not enough to give anything away. It is my desire that in my classroom my excitement about books, fans the flames of their own excitement. When students tell me they don’t like to read, I simply add “yet”. So often the largest stumbling block in a child’s interest in reading is directly related to their beliefs about themselves as readers and learners. There has been a long time belief that once we teach them to read, they will become motivated to do so, and will magically start to enjoy it. I believe this is backwards, when we excite kids about books (especially books on topics they are already interested in) that desire to be able to read those books will drive their interests to learn to read. Students engagement and excitement will drive their own desire to learn.
There is nothing more rewarding then listening to a student who was a self-proclaimed nonreader excitedly tell me about a book they are reading (and ask to skip lunch so they can continue to do so). Inspiring a love of reading is imperative when creating an engaging literacy classroom.
My goal is that as an educational system we continue to create an environment where we are impacting the students love of reading and of books and that we hinge our teaching and lessons on this love. Research shows that creating this interest in books will influence the students own desire and motivation to learn and in turn increase their ability to do so. I believe for us to be effective as educators our job is not simply to teach our students how to read and write, but to have them continue to do so throughout their lives. Inspiring our students love of books and words will create an environment where they are not only engaged, but motivated by their own interest to learn.