Only during the summer do I take the time to read an adult novel. During the school year I'm constantly on the hunt for the best children's books to use in my classroom. This summer I chose Water for Elephants. It was supposed to be a great love story and I wanted something pretty mindless to get lost in for a few days. The book itself was good, the ending was disappointing but that's another story. As I was reading, I started to think about myself as a reader; the things I do, where I read, how I read.
Let's just say that's it's a miracle I'm a even reader as an adult. In school, I was always in the high reading group and given the hard books to read but I was a slow reader, really slow; or so I thought. I would take me two days to finish a chapter. I was always behind in my reading and never really remembered what happened. I remember in 4th grade we had to read Little House In the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder, I HATED it. I didn't care about the characters, didn't care what happened to them and frankly, didn't ever want to see that book again. My mom would read to me just to get it done. I remember crying because I would rather do anything than read that stupid book.
This process happened over and over throughout my school career. I was made to read Little House on the Prairie, All Quiet on the Western Front, Great Expectations...and on and on and on. Did I ever get to pick these books? No! Did anyone ask me what I wanted to read? No! Luckily for me I had a family who thought books were important. I had a neighbor (retired first grade teacher) who always got me at least one book for Christmas and my birthday. I wanted to read, just not the stuff I was forced to read. I LOVED anything by Beverly Clearly, I loved nonfiction animal books, I loved The Indian in the Cupboard, I loved The Borrowers, I loved Romeo and Juliet, and I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. It wasn't until I was in high school did I realize that I wasn't a bad/slow reader, I just liked to chose my books.
I started thinking about my students as readers. A lot of my kids aren't lucky enough to come from families where books are a priority. I have many kindergartners who's first experience with books and reading is on the first day of school. It's obvious in my classroom that books are important when you walk in the door. The shelves are lined with buckets of books, I have then displayed and I'm constantly moving more of my stuff out to move more books in. I'm excited about books and try to get my kids excited about them. But am I doing enough? Is it enough that I give them time everyday to explore and read from our classroom library? Should I read one book a day chosen by a kid?
Then, I started thinking about environment when I read. I read on the couch, chair or in my bed. I'm never wearing shoes and never sitting at a table on a hard chair. I let my kids read around the room but is it comfortable enough? I don't think it is. I need soft places to sit or lie down. During read aloud I need to sit on the floor and be closer to them, they should be able to chose how they sit just like they would at home.
These are my thoughts as I look at myself and my kids as readers. I'm going to keep thinking it through and see what I come up with. Thoughts? Comments? Questions?