For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed reading. I remember being so excited to finally go to first grade. This was the year that I would finally learn to read. And yes, we learned to read with Dick and Jane and of course all of the rest of their family and friends. I was so thrilled when I finally learned to read. I read everything I could get my hands on. Towards the end of first grade or the beginning of second grade, I discovered Little House on the Praire. My grandmother had the book sitting around and I picked it up to read it. I remember being told that the book was too hard for me and I wouldn’t be able to read it. Of course, that was just the motivation that I needed to read the book. The librarian from our small town library would often tell me that I couldn’t get books from a certain area because I wasn’t old enough to read the book yet. Once again, I had to show that yes I can indeed read and understand these books. From then on, I think I always had a book. Fast forward to 8th grade when my English teacher once again told me that the book was too hard for me. There is no way that you will be able to understand Animal Farm by George Orwell he told me. I did read that book and while I didn’t understand all of the concepts that the book touched on, I do remember understanding it enough to get my English teacher to admit that yes, I was able to read the harder books.
I wish we could motivate students to want to try and read the harder books now. My high school freshman and sophomores are more than willing to settle for what they consider “easy books” Magic School bus, Magic Tree House, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc. I will admit that it is fun to read these books, but I would really like to see my students push themselves to read books that are a bit more challenging, that will take them out of their comfort zone, etc. (Don’t get me wrong, I have many strong readers, but would love to see all of my students pushing themselves to be better). Guess in some cases I should be thrilled that they even open a book as I do have other students that work really hard at NOT reading. So frustrating. So many don’t see the need or benefit of being able to read in their adult lives.
Something needs to change. We need to find a way to get all kids to want to read and to read to the best of their ability not settling for mediocre.