Reading by Choice

I am trying out an experiment this school year. It goes like this: last summer when my AP scores came out, I realized that the students who did not pass (and all of my students who didn’t pass earned a 2 on their exam) were my students who don’t read. I thought all summer about how to get my students read: read for a purpose, read for fun, read for choice, read complex texts…you name it.

I get caught up in the whole complex text thing. I want them reading complex texts, yes. But I also want them reading, period. I want them to understand that reading is something that can help them learn about the world, that it is a way to connect, it is a way to create new learning about experiences we may never have on our own. I want my students to read. Period.

The sad truth is that at the beginning of the year when my students did the reading inventory from The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, only one-third of my AP Lang students called themselves readers, and only HALF have read any books in the last year, either in or out of class.

So this year I am setting out to change this trend. My students have set a goal to read four books this school year on their own (not many, I know, but it’s doable). I give them 20 minutes each class period to read a book of their choice (we have 99 minute class periods), and I am using their outside reading to teach grammar, punctuation, and analysis skills.

My students are talking about their reading. They are exchanging books. They are giving each other advice about what to read and pushing one another to step outside of their usual genres. It’s really inspiring to watch.

Today we are doing our book recommendations for our first quarter, and my favorite recommendation?

This book is a nonreader read. I liked it.

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