“Reading takes too long!” “You want me to read a huge book rather than hang out with my friends?” “This book is boring!” “The other class doesn’t have to do this.” “I shouldn’t have to read, I am not going to need this reading in my life!” “I don’t like reading, so I don’t do it.”
All the previous quotes are directly from the mouths of middle school students.
I would like to give a reason to read as a middle schooler. Maybe even a plea to heed my warning as a person that went to high school and college and survived as a struggling reader. I was not a struggling reader as far as ability goes, I struggled with “want” to read. Motivation to read was the furthest thing from the top of my priority list. Actually, reading WAS NOT ON my priority list.
As a veteran teacher that prides himself on expecting the highest of expectations on his students, I would like to say that the love of reading needs to be fostered and caressed and prioritized and stressed and expected from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Allow students to choose their reading, allow them to share their reading with peers, teachers and parents. Allow students to fall into books and quit on books and shout out loud about books until they can not put books down and their own expectations are sky high. Their abilities will be up there right with their expectations.
If we foster the love of reading before 9th grade (the dreaded beginning of high school), students will be stronger readers of text and information and novels that are NOT chosen by them but assigned to them.
Assigned reading? But how much are we preparing for?
I asked college admissions offices that very question. The numbers are pretty eye-opening. Check out a few responses.
As you can see, college freshmen are required to read a large amount in college. This is reading that is assigned, not chosen. Schools like Michigan (approximately 500 pages per week per class), Indiana (300 pages per week per class) and Grand Valley State University (6,000 pages per semester).
These are all averages and estimates. If all the average estimates (from the people at the college) are as high as they are, there we have a goal we need to prepare for!
In my class, students’ reading is strictly chosen BY them, not for them. They are expected to set their own goal and reach their own goal. If they reach their self imposed goal, they succeed (Get an A on that portion of the grade). They are asked to be a part of the grading process through a Reading Ladder (reading reflection throughout the grading period).
As middle schoolers, shouldn’t we be spending out time reading for the love of reading and building the stamina up to be prepared in the next 4 years for this large amount of reading? Once high school gets here, shouldn’t we then add in the “reading that is assigned and not chosen” and continue to build the stamina?
Are you doing your part to build the stamina for reading or the love of reading for your students?