Today was Read Across America Day, aka Dr. Suess’s birthday. I teach in a high school. In fact, I teach AP Lang. “Those kids read, you have nothing to worry about…” is the mantra I often hear from teachers. But this year I embarked on an adventure I had no clue where it would lead me…or my students.
Last summer I made the discovery that the students I have who didn’t pass the AP exam were also the students who proudly proclaimed they weren’t readers. They adamantly resisted in. So this year we began with 20 minutes of reading during class which has grown to two hours of reading outside of class. I have nonreaders who have turned into readers because we (the librarians at my school and I) have helped them find books to love.
Today I stepped out of character for this particular class. Even though I was the person, when I taught middle school, who spearheaded all the Read Across American activities, I let that go when I began teaching high school.
Today…today we read Green Eggs and Ham. I had my juniors and seniors sit in circle time. They ate ice cream sandwiches and they hollered the ends to each of the lines in unison. There was laughter, there was silliness, there was love in that room today.
There was a love of reading and a love of being together sharing that moment that reading together provided our community.
When we finished the book, I walked them through a visualization of a time when they felt good reading. After we finished, they went back to their desks to write the story of the moment they pictured.
The writing was all about an adult in their life who did one of two things: sat with them to read aloud and cuddle OR made a book recommendation that turned them on to reading and how this made them feel they mattered.
Let’s not forget, especially those of us who teach high school, that the memories we create around reading matter. They hold a lasting effect on our students that cannot be underestimated.