Encouraging wide reading

14 Jul

The kids that I teach are awesome.  They are also, however, with a handful of exceptions,  non or occasional readers.

On a human level, this concerns me because students who do not read regularly miss out on opportunities to explore new worlds, to develop their ability to empathise with others and to see the world from different perspectives.  Indeed, there are worlds and experiences that my students are unable to access due to geography, time, or personal circumstances.  Reading would enable students to transcend time and space and engage with that which is currently out of reach.

As a teacher, my non or occasional readers cause concern because these students are disadvantaged when it comes to understanding how sentences should be structured, how images are built, how ideas are connected to create a coherent whole, and  how meaning is constructed.  They are also disadvantaged as they have less access to popular and quality literature (and yes, these are often different categories).  As such, these students have greater difficulty in evaluating the quality of their own work and that of their peers.  They also have greater difficulty in analysing texts set for study.

In light of all this, the question then becomes: How do I get my students to read?

As it turns out, my students are not overly receptive to novels.  Perhaps this is because, for many of these students, it takes ages to read a novel and, during that time, they lose track of the story line.

With this in mind, I think I am going to focus on getting students to engage with short stories.  My more motivated and competent students can read a short story in one sitting, while weaker students can read one over the course of the week.

The hitch, it seems, is figuring out how to sell this approach to my students! Any ideas?


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