I’ve just read another wonderful two chapters from Penny Kittle’s “textbook” entitled “Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers. Chapters three and four were just as fulfilling as one and two. In essence, the chapters were about how to create life long readers through organization and goals. The organization section pertains to classroom libraries, and the goal section without a doubt pertains to teachers constructing reading records for their students. I want to be clear that the author is not about prizes and rewards for heavy readers. Instead, she is about creating life long readers through intrinsic motivation. This all starts in the classroom.
Kittle has inspired me to continue my existential philosophy of teaching thought. The balance between student’s choosing the books they want to read, and the teacher slowly beckoning them to reach out for more difficult texts is key. The beginning always consists with students choosing the books they would like to read. As their “stamina,” as Kittle puts it, increases then the teacher should recommend they read some books that call for deeper stages of reflection. This does not mean that students can’t go back and recharge their batteries with some quick reading young adult novels. It just means that balance in reading is great, because it means that students are constantly reading.
Kittle has students take a reading evaluation, in order to find out how quickly students can read texts. Then math is implied to find out how many pages a student should be able to read in a week. This is some great practical advise! I mean think about it: it takes the pressure off of slower readers, allows students to see their stamina progress, teachers can see the trends of genre students develop as readers, teachers can track stamina progression. There are many variations of this that can be formed form Kittle’s advice, but the main goal is that students need to build their reading stamina and difficulty of books read.
This week’s reading also brought classroom libraries into play. Anybody who likes books has to fantasize a little bit about having a working library. I have a couple of book cases at my home and it’s my favorite aesthetic in the place, hands down. It’s true that having an organized book case makes a person read more. The same goes for a classroom. If you are surrounded by a heavy amount of titles then it is going to feel like a comfortable reading environment. A classroom library can either be organized by author and genre, just make sure it is organized. No need to waste too much time hunting for a book in a classroom. Another thing is that a teacher needs to have read at least half of the books on the shelves in their classroom. If a teacher has succeeded in motivating reluctant readers then that teacher needs to be able to recommend titles bases on what the students is desiring to read.