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Two Writing Teachers.
Jen Robinson has a terrific POST about limiting student free choice in reading doesn’t make avid readers. There are several things happening in schools that are limiting student choice.
Our district is currently using Lightsail for classroom reading. It’s an ebook library that reigns in the books students can read based on their level of reading. The selections seem limited for elementary and for emerging readers. There is a sizable budget to purchase more ebooks (read I would LOVE to have that budget for print). Plus it’s funded through a grant and I just wonder what will happen when the grant is over. How will it be funded?
During library, I highly encourage students to check out at least one book that would be considered a “good fit” book (read at their level). But their other choices in books are their choices. If a student wants to read a book that is easy and fun, great. If they want to choose a book that’s considered beyond their level that’s fine too.
Which brings me to today.
In two classes, I had teachers making statements about the books their students had chosen. One said that a book the student checked out wouldn’t be read because the student was reading at a lower level. So? Maybe they love the subject, maybe it will challenge them and maybe they’ll return it.
It reminded me of my reading Beloved by Toni Morrison. I’ve read that book four times and I still think it’s a challenging book for me. Each time I have read the book, something new is revealed.
My oldest grand child is working her way through Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It’s another very tricky book to read with its parallel universes. Grand child has been told it’s a book to read as it’s above her level. Determined to finish it, we have this conversation about its level every time we talk. Why can’t we talk about reading what we love?
In the other class today, the teacher was disturbed that students returned with some of the Piggy and Elephant books by Mo Willems (was told they’re baby books). I talked this teacher off the ledge of concern by saying we’d been discussing the EVERYBODY books, the picture books because they are going to vote on a book for the principal to read at the book fair.
Does it matter if the students read ‘easy” books? Do they have that just right book as well? I like to read books that are lighter in tone especially after reading books with somber themes or books that have been a challenge to read.
I wonder what we are teaching our kids about being avid readers? I am so thankful that I grew up in a house where I was allowed to read anything. Maybe I had to learn reading through the SRA kits of the sixties(which I loved going through all the colored levels) but my library books were 100% my choice.