Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How Can We Know?

Many times throughout the school year, I want to be able to put my finger on the "one true way" to know if my students have become the life-long readers I hope they will be.  Setting the stage before me, all of their previous teachers have worked hard toward this goal as well.  But it's on my mind.  A lot.

I've been reading some articles lately pointing to the critical need for explicitly instilling in our students this love for reading.  I've also been reflecting on my previous blog post, which includes a list of reading behaviors that I have observed in my students.  This list definitely comprises what I know to be true about what passionate readers do.  But is there one best indicator for life-long reading?  No, probably not.  But when I think about my own life habits as a reader, a question comes to mind: "What do I do that seems to stand out, that makes me feel like an avid, voracious reader?"

The answer that comes to me is that I am always reading a book (or two, or three...), and I always have books on my "Next Reads" list.  When I finish a book, I must go pick out another one, almost immediately.  I am rarely "in between" books, as I don't like much downtime between reading one book and another (that's not to say that I don't enjoy reflecting on the book I've just read.  I do tend to reflect for some time on books I've previously read.  I just appreciate getting into another book very quickly after finishing one).  I really enjoy having a book waiting for me when I finish another.  My next book almost always comes from my own personal "Next Reads" list, which I house on a list in the "Notes" section of my phone.

When I observe any of my students kind of wandering around the library, I know that I have some work to do.  Although this happens rarely, it is a reality still, from time to time.  I know that for that student, I can conference with them about their "Next Reads" list, and refer them to our "Book Recommendations" list as well.  I love seeing kids talk about books, about what they loved about their weekend reading, about their spring break books, and about what they cannot wait to read in the near future.

The reality is that the more I see students with a very full "Next Reads" list, I am almost always rewarded with the realization that they have arrived.  They are hooked.  They are readers, and the habit is so engrained that they can't imagine approaching the amazing process of reading any other way.

My next reads stack of professional books includes the following books (although I finished Talk About Understanding in a recent book talk group).

What are you reading now?  What's on your "Next Reads" list?

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