Building a Classroom of Readers

Ok. So it’s actually working, not that I had too many doubts. I am currently in the midst of parent teacher conferences. I love to catch up with parents to discuss their child’s academic and social performance. On top of communicating with parents as needed during the marking period, conferences provide a chance to showcase their child’s work. It also provides me with an opportunity to hear their feedback as to how they feel the year has been progressing, in addition to the parent surveys that I create for parents to complete via Google forms twice a year.

The common theme that kept reoccurring was how they felt their child has grown with their love of reading. Many have commented on how their child comes home and wants to talk about the books they’ve been reading in class, as well as the current book I am reading aloud, “The False Prince.” As was the case with “The One and Only Ivan,” children are so enthusiastic about this book, many have visited the local library and/or purchased the first two books in the series.

In addition, many parents have commented about how useful blogging has become because it gives them a glimpse into their child’s mind about what types of books their reading. You can read some sample book recommendations by going to our kidblog page.

The feedback was also very positive because I did not require children to complete reading logs. The parents, as well as myself, felt the logs did not intrinsically motivate their child to read. They felt it was a “chore,” rather than reading for pure enjoyment. Parents were jubilant I did not utilize this practice because they felt they always just signed the book log, but truly did not know if their child understood what they read, or even read. Thus creating a vicious cycle because if a child knows their parent can’t validate what they read, doesn’t that create an ideal in the child’s mind that no one is holding them accountable? As a teacher, I can’t imagine why I assigned reading logs. There was no follow through on my part, which I admit, I could have done a better job with. The students would hand them in at the end of the week and I would put a check mark on the log. As I type, I cringe about how I used to require reading logs, or provide no purposeful feedback.

After reading so many thoughtful and insightful blog posts by the wealth of talented teachers around the world, I’ve changed. Think about it. Children are motivated because they’re being exposed to a variety of genres, authors, and books. No rewards are given when finishing a book. Students celebrate with one another by writing book recommendations on their blogs, create animoto videos, or just slip their peer a note telling them they “HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!”

I acknowledge that I have a long way to go and still have so much to learn, but based on the feedback and enthusiasm I see with my parents and students, motivation is built and the love of reading has been instilled. The ultimate goal is to channel this enthusiasm to go from a classroom or readers to a school community of readers.

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