Monday, October 13, 2014

A Reluctant Reader No Longer

As a substitute teacher, I come in and do my job and leave. Even though I know most of the kids and am able to keep track of their school progress and social life, I feel like I really don't make much of an impact. I basically check in, do my job, and go home.

A few years ago, I was a long-term sub for a teacher that worked with kids who needed extra help with their reading. They were all what I would call "reluctant readers" and it was a daily struggle to get them to do their daily reading.

There was one student in particular, who I knew had the ability to read but wasn't doing it. After talking with him I found that he couldn't find any books that were interesting to him. So, I talked to him about finding a book on a subject he is interested. I remember he mentioned he liked dragons and fantasy type of books but there weren't a lot of books like that at the school, especially at his reading level. He didn't want to read about sports or vampires or romances.

That afternoon, as soon as school got out, I went to our local library and started looking for some books I thought this student might like and ones that were in his reading level. Luckily, I found a series of books (I can't remember now what series it was) that I thought he might like. I checked out the first book in that series and took it to school the next day.

He came back to me just a couple days later with the book finished and anxiously wanting the next book.  So, I went and checked out the next book for him.  This pattern followed as we moved through the series. Because he was a middle school student, he wasn't able to get to the library himself. So, as I finished out that school year with him, I continued to check out books for him that I thought he would like.


Fast forward to this student now being a junior in high school. I was subbing the other day and this same student was in my class. As soon as his work was done, I noticed he was reading. Since we are a 1:1 school, usually a student is doing something on their iPad during their down time. But, I was surprised to see this student reading. I went over to see what he was reading and it was a Rick Riordan novel, no surprise. I told him I was so glad to see that he was reading, by choice. I told him it made me happy.Then he said the one thing that made tears come to my eyes. 

He told me he now LOVES to read. 
Because I showed him back in middle school 
that there were books 
he could read and be interested in. 
He now LOVES to read.

This made my day. Heck it made my week! The fact that this student is no longer a reluctant reader, but one that can't read books fast enough. That is what reading is supposed to be about. Finding a genre you love, being eager to move through the story, and then moving on to the next one.

If your child is a reluctant reader, try to find books that are in a level they can understand. If your child is in school, their teacher should know their AR book level or some other testing level that can guide you when finding an appropriate book. Once you have their level, start asking what they might like to read about...

  • Sports: football, basketball, soccer, baseball, cheerleading
  • Friendships
  • Dragons
  • Vampires
  • Ghosts
  • Families
  • Baking
  • School
  • History: Civil War, WWI, WWII, Pioneer
  • Non-Fiction: places, animals, people

There is truly a book for everyone if you can just find a starting point. One book will lead you to another either through the author or subject. Sites like goodreads and Amazon will lead you to books you might like if you liked a particular book. Keep trying. Don't give up. Like I told one of my students in that same middle school class, even if you read the sports page of the newspaper, you are reading. Find something you are interested in and read it.

1 comment:

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

What a wonderful post. I am so happy that you were fortunate enough to run into this student and find out what an impact you had on him!