Learning, Leading, and Loving Literacy

Posts tagged ‘reading motivation’

Reaching Reluctant Readers

I subscribe to several teaching related blogs and the one I read this morning (and included below) reminded me what we need to do for our reluctant readers every day. Although it may be frustrating to constantly push reluctant readers to read, it is something we need to do and do cheerfully, consistently, and tenaciously.  It’s exactly what they need from us.

Practiced Avoidance 

by Lori Sabo

You are going to judge me and you will be completely justified in doing so.

I have a shoulder impingement injury. I have been assigned stretches and exercises, which if practiced daily will lessen the pain and bring back my range of movement, yet I don’t do them. They aren’t very hard. They don’t even take very long. I don’t have a single good reason for avoiding them.

How is it better to live with stabs of pain so intense that I go from being a normal woman to one with circling cartoon stars of pain above my head? How is it better to live for months, careful not to make movements that cause mind-numbing, nearly faint-inducing pain? It isn’t. I get it. It isn’t.

All of you with healthy bodies are thinking, That doesn’t make sense. Just do the moves and get better. And you are right. See, I knew you’d judge me.

But until one of my loved ones steps in to hold me accountable, or until I decide that I am tired of the complete lack of improvement, the stretchy purple band and illustrated list of moves collects dust while I practice avoidance.

So now I know.

Now I know and can relate to that special brand of reluctant reader who wants to be proficient, but doesn’t read. They have what they need in their book boxes, but avoid engaging with text. They are given time to practice, but don’t use it. It doesn’t make any sense. And time after time, they shrug and say they don’t know why they don’t read, they just don’t.

But being a nonreader is a pain inducing experience we can’t allow. So until our reluctant readers become voracious and independent readers, we must assess accurately, instruct wisely, support and scaffold brilliantly, check in with daily, cheer on optimistically, and tenaciously impart the message that reading is a superpower they must have for themselves. No judgment, just understanding and the message that they are too important to let slip through the cracks

Reaching Reluctant Readers

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them to LOVE reading.  This is, of course, easier said than done.  Making reading feel like a treat rather than a chore can be difficult, especially if readers struggle.  This recent blog post from The Two Sisters gives us tips for reaching those reluctant readers:

Reluctant Reader Remedies

Lori Sabo

Charles Swindoll began a blog post on contradictory truths with the following:

Tom Landry, the late head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was once quoted as saying something like this:

“I have a job to do that is not very complicated, but it is often difficult: to get a group of men to do what they don’t want to do so they can achieve the one thing they have wanted all their lives.”

Coach Landry, in that seemingly contradictory statement, described what discipline is all about . . . doing what we don’t want to do so we can accomplish what we’ve always wanted. (“Contradictory Truths, Part One.”Insight for Living, July 31, 2009)

My mind immediately went to my reluctant readers and my role as coach/classroom teacher in helping them become what Donalyn Miller terms wild readers.

For a variety of reasons, attaining the discipline of reading can be painful for our most reluctant readers. They may tell us they don’t really care about reading, but if we could wave a magic wand and make them accurate, fluent, expressive, comprehending readers, not one of them would turn us down. But there isn’t such a wand, and we know that they will never become wild readers if they don’t read. So how can we get them to do what they don’t want to do in order to help them become what they must?

I love what Pat Scales says in Winning Back Your Reluctant Readers, “The answer is simple: Know the students, know the books, and seek creative ways to connect the two.”

Pat is absolutely right. According to the Kids and Family Reading Report, the most likely reason our reluctant readers avoid reading is that they have trouble finding books they want to read.

Whether we work with 5-year-olds or 15-year-olds, we can help our reluctant readers by,

  • making sure we have high-interest books at their reading level;
  • providing as much choice as possible;
  • buying, begging for, and borrowing books that match their personal interests;
  • reading as many books as we can that match our students’ reading levels;
  • staying up on the newest books, current trends, and must-have titles;
  • giving weekly book talks to pique interest and promote titles; and
  • reading the first chapter of a book we know they’ll love, and then handing it over.