In our last four posts, both Bill and I have mentioned the trip we took to Boston with a busload of soon-to-be-middle school students. As we rode for miles and miles and miles and hours and hours and hours on the bus, I made a shocking observation. Of a busload of 35 children, I only saw 5 of them reading a book to pass the time at any point in time. Five!
I don't know the exact technology terminology, but the bus activity of choice was connecting to other people's hand-held game systems, and playing video games. While I don't have a personal vendetta against these games, I am just shocked at how many hours were spent by so many playing video games, and how only 5 students chose to read.
One reason I was shocked was that out of the 35 students, 23 came from the school where I teach. That means 23 children had myself or 2 of my colleagues (both who are passionate about language arts, also) as teachers last year. And I might add, they also had Bill as the school librarian! Because I know this, I am well aware that they were inundated with great books and teachers who demonstrated a passion for books.
So, knowing this, I am shocked by the fact that only 5 children chose to spend free time reading a book on this very long bus ride (I do need to add a disclaimer here that I wasn't sitting beside each child every minute of the bus trip, so there may have been a few others).
My resolution, then, as I approach this new school year is to find a way to help children want to make reading a free choice activity. To do this, I need to continue to find books that "hook" children who are finding it difficult to select a text. I need to make sure the books I choose to read aloud are powerful and interesting, and engage students in the story line. I need to continue reading my favorite blogs, so I always have new and current book titles to share with the students. I need to figure out what fascinates boys when they read (did I mention that out of the 35 students, 26 were boys?!). I need to match ALL students with the book that is "just right" for them. I need to develop a community of readers that lead literate lives both inside and outside of the classroom.
Right now, my resolutions are fairly global; my job will be to fine-tune them as I get to know my new community of students on August 25.
Maybe next year on the bus to Boston, more readers will be visible. That's my goal.