Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Joy of Reading

I'll never forget the experience. Up until 7th grade, reading class in school had been an endless pattern of sentence diagramming, vocabulary and spelling worksheets, and textbooks. It was boring, and when I walked into my 7th grade classroom, I had never willingly read a book in my life.

I walked in the class, and there were bookshelves everywhere. There was easily over 1,000 books in the classroom. The teacher explained how her class worked. We were supposed to come to class, grab a book, and read. There were tasks to be completed at the end of each book, including a book report and summary. I read over twenty books that year.

That is the one positive literacy experience I had in all my years of schooling, and it has had a profound impact on how I teach reading today. I try very hard to mold my class after my own 7th grade experience. As the school year draws to a close, I'm beginning to reflect on this year with my class. I have students who claimed to have never read a book before. One student in particular claimed she always hated reading. She read twenty-four books this school year, all of them quality pieces of literature, and now says that reading is her favorite past time, that her mom has to force her to stop and go to bed.

Now you tell me, what's more important, that my students make AYP on some stupid test, or that they become involved, want to read, and enjoy the process? I've done my job, I'm happy. That one experience has had the potential to impact many many students in the future. I'm thankful for my 7th grade reading teacher, and I hope that someday one of my students will become a teacher and be influenced as well.