Sunday, January 13, 2013

Q: Who should be the most voracious reader in the room? A: The Teacher


Certain professional titles leave a lasting mark on our subconscious, and I am convinced that Penny Kittle’s latest publication, Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers will linger in my mind for decades. This is a book I plan to reference for years to come, and I am eternally grateful she shared her hunger for books with the world.

When the Amazon box arrived on January 2, I quickly started annotating and filling up the margins with ideas and reflections. Her writing style is so easy to follow, and the stories she shares tug at your heart strings. She is the “book whisperer” for high school teachers, and I am sure she and Donalyn Miller have had numerous conversations about the importance of the affective domain of reading. These ladies’ fervor for literacy inspires, motivates, and stirs something deep inside of me.

Here are a few quotes worth chewing on.
“The goal is to get all kids reading, and that is an immense challenge.” 
“Is reading really only about what’s hard? Is there no place in school for what brings joy and escape and urges you to read to the end just to see how it all works out? If in school reading is only like boot camp, we lose readers. Does this approach to teaching reading distance too may kids from books?”
“I believe we own a reader’s improvement the year we have them.”
“It’s about balance: our interest and theirs, rigor and ease.”
“None of our local or national tests measure the joy students take in reading or their stamina for it. None measure our ability to create lifelong readers in thirteen years of schooling. Those are critical, haunting omissions."
“I know about kids who have little because I was one during a few dark years in my childhood. Food mattered. Hand-me-downs mattered. My dad’s drinking mattered. But I also know that reading saved me. Reading saved me because I escaped into the world of The Great Brain and imagined a different life. And maybe all I’m doing is saving myself again and again when I track down one book for Adam tonight, ordering it and paying for it myself, on the chance that he will read. On the chance that it might be pleasurable and meaningful and it might show him light in an otherwise dark life, which includes his father’s current incarceration.”
One nugget from the book that resonated strongly with my belief system was the power of promotion. I decided last week to start wearing a badge holder displaying small printed book covers of titles our kids might consider reading. As an instructional coach, I believe I have the power to infect others with “book love”. This is easier said than done. So I figured I would start with the students. Each day I will choose a different book to promote, and hopefully by sharing these titles with kids, teachers will be inspired to read the middle grade books their children are checking out.


Penny Kittle highlights Jim Trelease’s famous quote on pg. 158, “You can’t catch a cold or a love of book from someone who has neither.” She goes on to explain that we can’t teach something we don’t practice. I couldn’t agree more. As soon as I finish posting this blog, I plan to snuggle up on the couch with Katherine Hannigan’s book, Ida B. I’m sure I will get lost in a magical world full of mystery and intrigue. And hopefully I’ll be able to put this book into the hands of a student who desperately wants to find a way to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and possibly save the world.







1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this title and your thoughts. Books have saved me during periods of "the blacks" (those hard times that we all face) and I hope her Adam finds the light.

    How about some research on that question:
    "None of our local or national tests measure the joy students take in reading or their stamina for it. None measure our ability to create lifelong readers in thirteen years of schooling. Those are critical, haunting omissions."


    I like to watch "Up" on MSNBC on the weekends and yesterday the host had a panel of authors from a variety of writing genres. One of them spoke of our need (HUNGER) for fiction and how it helps us to understand our world, but also helps us understand ourselves.

    Go Book Eaters of the World! Share the appetite!
    And...go Book Badge Wearers! I LOVE that idea and am going to get me the kind that pin on our bodies (you know, like nametags). Then I can pin and pop in several. Woo hoo!!!

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