The number of books a child finishes is the most significant statistic of all; it represents and predicts so much about their academic future.
Nancy Atwell, winner of the 2015 Global Teacher Prize,
I recently attended the 1st Annual Summer Literacy Institute. Penny Kittle presented at the conference. She teaches middle years and secondary ELA in New Hampshire, U.S.A. She said that her school had one of the highest drop out rates in the country. Since she and her colleagues have become living, breathing mentor texts for their students, their drop out rate is now 0!
Penny spoke about how brain research has shown that people are developing:
“bi-literate brains…the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing… Humans…seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online….This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millenia.”(Maryanne Wolf)
For this reason, we need to build and prepare kids with the deep, slow reading they get from reading books.
In her presentation Penny talked about taking student apathy head on. First, by recognizing why students don’t read. Second, by giving kids books that are right for them, along with time to read and time for regular response to their thinking. These simple steps can create a pathway to satisfying reading that leads to more challenging literature and ultimately, a love of reading.
Penny’s Independent reading essentials:
-Relationship with the student is positive and encouraging meeting them where they are.
-Classroom library and book talks in a wide variety of texts.
-Time to read everyday and time to confer regularly.
-Choice in what to read, when to abandon a book, and when to reread a book.
-The student sets regular goals for improvement.
This time of year is very busy, but after your summer holiday and a well deserved break consider looking at her resources. I purchased three of her books at the conference: Book Love, Write Beside Them and My Quick Writes. Her books are available to sign out if you would like. I will leave a copy of her handout in your mailbox. The link to her website is below: