They chose reading..

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share with other Media Specialists in our county about my experiences with the 40-book challenge and fourth graders. I shared how many children became readers through the process, and how the teachers became readers too. After that initial year of the book challenge, several teachers took on the challenge themselves~ and are also forever changed.

During the workshop, someone commented that it sounded great- but we couldn't make kids read. If they had the choice of a video game or a book- they're not going to choose books- so how do you manage that tension?  My reply: We're the model- the book pusher as it were- making reading enticing and entertaining, figuring out who they are and what interests them.

Coming back to work, I got bogged down in the minutia and lost sight of what's happening around me. Don't get me wrong- I knew kids were reading at my school. Any day you can tell that by the sheer volume of books that come in and out- and they're all different kinds.  The variety is astounding, even the daily repeat visitors are expanding their depth and range.

Friday was an especially busy day in the library- we were getting ready to close for book fair prep and set-up so kids were coming in for their last minute book swaps. Additionally, the morning announcements were being broadcast from the media center: we were doing character ed awards and celebrating students via television. The line at the desk was long. The kids were still coming in. And then it happened: the announcement to die for.

"Mrs. D'Amelio's class is celebrating 40 class compliments today. They have chosen as their reward day a pj and reading day. Congrats to Mrs. D'Amelio's class- and I wish you could see Mrs. Ramsey dancing behind the camera."

What makes this so special- so amazing- is that kids chose reading. Not extra recess. Not a movie. Not a game day. Not electronics. They chose reading. And why? Because they have a teacher who encourages them to read- who makes reading fun and not work. A teacher who embraced the book challenge and has been changed. A teacher who models what matters. Reading.


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