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Inspiring Children to Read

One of my responsibilities as a reading teacher is to find ways to inspire my students to read.

Most of them hate to read.

The only things they willingly read are their Facebook updates, text messages, and fast food menus.

They care not for written prose penned out, or should I say “pecked” out, and printed on something we call paper.

We teachers have what are called “Book Talks” to get our kids interested in reading.

Last year, I watched as my friend, Barb, gave a book talk in my room.

Then, I tried to imitate her.

I quickly discovered that there is a difference between telling about a book and sharing about a book.

Anyone can tell about a book simply by picking it up and reading its book jacket.

To share about a book requires that you first READ it.

When you share, you do something more than recall mere facts…the who, what, where, when, and why.

You become animated as your entire being connects with memories of having read the book.

Your eyes light up, your heart races, and your voice shakes from pure excitement.

You are sharing more than just words.

You are sharing a passion…THE passion that was stirred inside of you when it was YOU who was reading the book.

Your excitement is infectious.

It’s way better than the flu.

It doesn’t hurt anyone.

Oh sure, it can lead one to lay around in bed all day, but not because of a fever…unless one is talking about a fever to read.

See, here’s the thing.

Kids are used to being given lip service.

They can smell sincerity a mile away…or rather deception.

Their ears have the uncanny ability to hone in on empty words that have no feeling behind them.

The first time I watched Barb give a book talk, she put her entire body into it.

The kids ate up every word that came out of her mouth.

Then, I watched as she pointed to various books on the bookshelf that used to be hers but which she’d generously donated to my prior-to-then empty classroom.

She told students details about most of the books on those shelves…

Because she, herself, had read them!

That’s when I started reading…

And ordering books…

And doing more reading.

Now, I even READ about books, and the process starts all over again.

On Thursday, I showed a book trailer to a group of students…about a book I’d just read a review on…and when I mentioned that I was going to order the book that very afternoon, they began arguing about who would get to read it first.

That is powerful.

But it doesn’t happen unless the fearless leader (i.e., the teacher) has laid the groundwork by first being the model…by setting the example.

Which is what I’ve been working hard at.

Here are a few of the books I’ve read lately that I haven’t told you about…

UnWholly, by Neal Shusterman, is the second book in the Unwind trilogy.  The third is rumored to be coming out later this year.  This book blew me away in the way it introduced and delved into very controversial topics…things we need to start getting the younger generation to think about.

The Lightening Thief, by Rick Riordan, is probably a book that I’m the last to read, I’ll admit, but cut me some slack.  I’m making up for lost time!!  I enjoyed this book and was able to connect back to it when I watched the most recent episode of Person of Interest.  I’d be reading the second book, except that one of the dogs pulled it off of my table and chewed it up.  I’m going to be ordering a replacement the next time I get paid.

Messenger, by Lois Lowry, is the third in The Giver series.  I cried as I read the ending of this book.  Characters from the previous two books, The Giver and Gathering Blue were reunited.  I got to learn more about them as the book’s underlying story unfolded.  This book and its simple yet descriptive language touched me to the core.  I am eager to read the final book, Son, of the quartet.  It’s currently making its way to my home even as I type this.

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