Friday, August 3, 2012

Road Trip Reading

Road trips with my family are the highlight of my summer. I always anticipate these treasured vacations with great expectation, and rarely do they disappoint. One of the traditions we began several years ago was reading a book together while we traveled. Chris and I would take turns reading aloud as we traipsed across the country, and although Hunter and Chandler were pre-teens when their dad and I married, they welcomed the read-aloud without complaint.

This year we decided to read Veronica Roth’s book, Divergent. Our whole family got psyched up over the Hunger Games, and several friends recommended this title as a solid follow-up to Suzanne Collin’s now famous trilogy. We are only on chapter 7, and we are all hooked! Beatrice and Caleb have just chosen their new factions, Dauntless and Erudite. The rich conversations and thoughtful questions we’ve shared make the trip meaningful. Hopefully, our fifteen and seventeen year old will cherish the memories of these stories for a lifetime.
Along with a family-wide read-aloud, the kids are also completing their summer reading assignments for school. Unfortunately, Hunter and Chandler approach these literacy tasks with dread and resistance. The word annotate shuts them down, and although they are reading classic literature like To Kill a Mockingbird, they balk and complain. Their protests remind me of a comment one of my 4th grade students made this year when I attempted to force him to read. He simply stated, “Mrs. Shade, when you try to make us read, it doesn’t work. Nobody likes to be told that he HAS to read a book!”
All of these experiences are reinforcing my beliefs about choice and autonomy. My teenagers can’t wait to continue reading Divergent because it’s not required. Humans have a deep need for independence, and we must nurture self-directed learning in our children. Empowering, motivating, and inspiring our students to connect with the right text should be our utmost priority.
We’re about to hit the road again heading north to Santa Fe, NM. We’ll have a ten hour drive back home, and I’m certain our family will collectively experience that magical moment when you turn the last page of book and sigh with sadness because the story has ended. Grateful is an insufficient word to describe how I feel about sharing books with my family. There is no greater joy!

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