Did you know that there are kids who have zero access to books in their home? Zero. As in NO BOOKS. Check out the graphic below that I borrowed from this great piece from Scholastic on the topic of access to books.
Thanks to my good friend Todd Nesloney, I had an awesome opportunity recently to attend the Scholastic Reading Summit in San Antonio, TX. Information like what you see above is what prompted me to reflect on this topic.
As a science teacher attending a reading summit, I felt a bit out of place. However, as I begin to listen to people talk I realized that I was exactly where I need to be. I have done a mediocre job during my seven years of teaching of providing opportunities for students to read in my classroom. I have, in the past, had maybe fifteen to twenty books the students might be interested in picking up to read and occasionally, they would.
Hearing from "living legends" like Donalyn Miller, John Schu, and Matt de le Peña, forced me to come to the realization (embarrassingly enough, for the first time) that it is my responsibility as a teacher (of any subject) to give students opportunities to read. Yes, even in science class. And I don't mean to open up their 27-year-old science textbook and read it. I mean allowing them to read for fun. To read what they want to read.
Reading with choice.
Reading for fun.
Reading for growth.
Reading picture books.
Reading novels (yes, even graphic novels).
Part of my job is to provide them this opportunity to grow and to stretch themselves.
"But they're not learning science" some will scream. They're LEARNING!
Yes, I have to teach the standards. I am aware of that and I do this (I think I do it fairly well, in fact). However, I am also aware of my duty as an educator to develop a love and passion for reading in my students and give them a chance to do it.
So, I am throwing these reflections out there to all non-reading teachers with the hopes that we can join forces in fostering a love for reading books of all kinds in ALL of our students.
Yes, even in science class! :-)
Brent Clarkson, M.Ed.