Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to create readers?

As the semester continues, I am working on altering my initial ideas for a research proposal.  In my last post I referred to a possible study on the "impact of restricting students' reading choices on their reading skills and future reading for pleasure".  While I still feel this is an important topic that calls for research, evaluation, and action (!), I believe that this statement reflects my own preconceived notions about school reading programs.  Perhaps, I need to study what "works" instead of just focusing on what is wrong.  This approach raises a number of questions I would love to explore:

  • How are readers created?  
  • What influences some children to love reading while others loathe it?  
  • Is it solely based on ability?  
  • How important is the home environment at influencing reading?  
  • What can schools and school libraries do to overcome deficits in terms of early exposure to books and literacy?
  • How can librarians best provide materials of interest to students with varied backgrounds and reading abilities?
For the moment, I will focus on seeking out literature related to best practices for cultivating lifelong readers.


  1. Judging from my own experience, again, the teacher can read to the children. Just a little everyday to whet their interest. It could be a piece of grown-up poetry with a good rhythm and beautiful words. Practice at home reading ro get the feel and tell them, " Listen, boys and girls, this is very beautiful. See if you can hear the words sing." Act enthusiastic, laugh if it is funny, but give them a taste of the reading what was made to spoken. With the older children you can expand into snatches of that people used to sit around and sing their stories before books. Be enthusiastic and make it fun.

    I developed a life-long love for LES MISERABLES when a teacher in fifth grade one afternoon read us the portion that tells of Cossette, her miserable life and rescue by Jean Valjean. She read it as a Christmas story to us around Christmas. I had no idea of the name of the book and was delighted to find it when I was looking in books as a teenager. I immediately read the whole story. Not the book, but the story. When I have read it again, I have most especially enjoyed all the descriptions and history which were not of interest earlier.

    I would encourage more audio books in the school library. A child who has trouble reading can receive a great deal of pleasure from listening to a book being read or perhaps acted out the way the narrator of the Harry Potter does. Some old books for the rare child who might like that sort of
    reading. Classic Comics or graphic novels. I first discovered the COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO that way. I have seen children get very interested in history by reading Graphic Novels on the Civil War.
    Books in the classroom - different levels, some non-fiction. Not much realism, many children may have enough problems in their home life. Give them a chance to read fairy tales ( which are natural tie-ins to fantasy and science fiction).

    I would say readers are created by hearing books read and being led to believe that books are full of wonderful and curious secrets if you can just find the right ones. Personally I would like to develop a taste for good reading; it is a pity to waste the time of a child on the DIsney version of a book when we can offer the real story. I heard a father telling someone he preferred to read his children the book before they saw some movies. He said, "I mean the real book, not the book written from the movie version."

    Sorry for the long rant - I feel very passionate about this subject.


  2. You know how much I read to Kristin when she was growing up, but over the past several years she has formed very firm ideas on what she wants to read - and my influence has been replaced by her peers influence. I begged her to read The Hunger Games for months - suddenly a friend at school tells her they liked it and suddenly she can't read it fast enough. As far as home environment, I cannot recall my mom reading a single book and I only recall my dad reading his Bible. But my mom bought me books and encouraged me to read. I may not have read as much as I should have read growing up - but I was made to feel like it was something I should be doing. You know how important reading is to me - I talk about reading, I make time to read, I share my interest in reading. I hope this will help Kristin, as she gets older, how important reading is, and that she will not give in to somes view that it is selfish to spend time reading when there are other things that need to be done.

  3. Thank you for the comments everyone! I love having participants in my research journey. Andie, it sounds like you are doing everything right with Kristin. I remember not wanting to read books that my mother recommended to me (right, Linda? :)) and have experienced the same with my sons. One trick I have learned is that I don't even ask the boys if they want certain books. I just leave them lying around casually on a table or in our library bag and when they run out of things to read, they come across my covert selection and, sometimes, actually read it. This does not always work, but I love it when they do.