Helping Students Find the Books They Like
Perhaps the most common way to motivate a child to read is to identify the child’s interests and then locate books on those subjects. Although this method largely works well, it has two drawbacks: (1) In a regular library, all the books on a favorite topic are soon exhausted, so the teacher still needs to know how to get children interested in other subjects. More important, (2) some children do not know what they are interested in and tend to fall between the cracks. Unfortunately, such children usually are the ones who need books the most. Teachers can help create the desire to read in both types of students—those who would benefit from expanding their areas of interest and those who have none—when they introduce and read from a variety of children’s books they personally like.
Choosing personal favorites to recommend to children is at least as successful as any other way of selecting titles. No source or method is foolproof. Even picking books exclusively from lists of award winners such as the Caldecott and Newbery carries no guarantee children will respond positively to them. When teachers introduce and read from books they genuinely like, students are more likely to be motivated for two reasons:
- Those books generally are better books. They usually are more solidly crafted and contain more levels on which children can make connections.
- When teachers recommend books that are personally meaningful, a genuine and irresistible enthusiasm accompanies their words. When people talk about books they like, those who listen often are influenced by their sincerity and conviction.
Nothing we offer children is more important than an adult who reads. Children end up doing what we do, not what we say, and all the admonitions about the importance of reading in their lives fall on deaf ears if they view us as people who do not take our own advice. When we speak from experience, however, our words are more honest and persuasive. We can’t convince children of the beauty of mathematics unless that vision comes from our own hearts and minds. We can’t paint a believable picture of how appealing life in the desert is unless we have lived there and loved it. And we largely waste our time singing the virtues of reading when the last time we read a book was five years ago.
© ______ 2008, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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