Thinking about reading…
I came across this post a few weeks ago, and it has been sitting open in a tab of my browser ever since, while I’ve wondered what I wanted to say about it.
The author, Paige Jaeger, is advocating the rights of children to choose their own reading materials, rather than educators getting hung up on giving children texts that support particular curricular outcomes. Whilst Ms Jaeger is looking at the US context and their Common Core Standards, her points are equally applicable here.
In the classroom, the teacher’s job is to help children make sense of the rules of language, digging deep into grammar, text types, writing styles, vocabulary, and all the other elements that going into developing the knowledge and skills necessary to be literate.
When those children step into the Library, what the Teacher Librarian really wants is to see those children dive joyfully into a wide variety of books and come back up grinning with delight at the treasures they found inside.
Picture taken from the poster of Rights of the Reader
Perhaps this week the theme is to challenge themselves to explore two new genres – the TL will remind the students how to search the catalogue by subject, and suggest more titles that might intrigue them.
Other students are looking for information on their favourite animal, or tv show, or arguing about the status of Pluto – the TL will steer them towards the tools they need to find what they want.
Sometimes though it is a bit trickier – what about the child who at 9 years is still reading like a 6 year old? He needs simple but interesting books that don’t look babyish, because he’s ashamed of how far behind he is and is worried about being teased. Or the child who at 10 years can decode just about any book you put in front of him – he isn’t old enough for the themes in most YA fiction, but the majority of books written for his age group are too easy to engage his attention.
This is where TLs and classroom teachers work together, talking about the needs of their students and looking for books that will help both the struggling and the exceptional students become confident, eager readers who see books as a source of entertainment and delight.
The right of the individual to decide how to be a reader – that’s the whole point, really.