|She finished two books|
in a 3-day weekend
But all too often, children who have a complicated relationship with the printed word are not given the management strategies needed to successfully work around their deficit. If they haven't had the opportunity to enjoy a book, they will not know to seek it out independently. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to turn it around.
|Reading her way out of support class|
Sonnenblick was her jam.
1 - Match them with the right book.
Do the hard work ahead of time and know what books are likely to spark your readers. Then talk to your kids (Does page count matter? What was the last book you enjoyed? What's your favorite movie? What have you been thinking about lately?) Book talk three choices and then let them decide which one to try. Don't forget to give them a mission and a time to check back "Read the first three chapters before Tuesday, then let me know if want to keep it or try something else." And when they come back, accept their feedback with an open mind and an open hand. If they need another book, smile and find something else. Never let them see you sweat and never let them leave empty-handed.
2 - Ask them what they need.
|Bookshare at work in 6th grade|
And then there's the game-changer: Bookshare. Offered through the federal government, Bookshare is an online library currently containing over half a million titles. The best part? It's free to those with a print disability. All of our qualifying students have accounts and we spend several classes orienting them to the web-based platform. Kids can search for specific titles or access customized lists (ours is called "CRL Approved" - feel free to take a look!) E-books download in under a minute. Students can adjust the color, font, or size of text, and activate a computer-generated narrator at the click of a button. Bookshare's selection is second to none and it works with Apple and Android products. Though it's never easy to take the leap and welcome technology into your classroom, we strongly encourage you to explore this incredible resource on behalf of your students.
|Find what you love on Bookshare|
While we're on the subject of addressing students' needs, remember this could also mean physical separation. Last week we discovered that one of my favorite seventh graders reads best with his back to the rest of the group; the class was too visually distracting.
3 - Give them time and space.
Reading must not simply be promoted, it must be supported. After we take the time to put good books in their hands, we must give them the time and space to read. Set aside a decent amount of time (twenty minutes at minimum), send everyone to the bathroom ahead of time, dim the lights, and take out your own book to read. If your kids aren't ready for the independence, read out loud. Bottom line: fill the time with reading.
It's also important to let kids know how long reading should take. Think about your students: how many kids read one book all summer long - and how many took the full eight weeks to read it? Stretching out the task does nothing to improve comprehension or increase enjoyment. We tell our students that reading a book is like watching a movie: even if you've got the best movie on the planet, you're not going to like it if you watch it in eight-minute increments. Show them how to read and craft a reasonable timeline.
|However you want|
In my room, reading usually involves children splayed out on the floor. Some stay in seats, others squeeze between bookcases or sit under a table. Some place their foreheads on the desk, others cradle their face in their hands. Kids use Chromebooks, paperbacks, and tablets. I know who brings their own Bluetooth headphones and who borrows a pair from me. And then they read.