I have just finished one of Stenhouse's newest listings, Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L Layne. I knew I would like the book as soon as I read the delightful forward by the two sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. In their very "two sisters' style" they introduced the reader to the delightful, funny and passionate Steven Layne.
This books says, so much more eloquently, what many of us have been saying at school for some time now - that we have to get away from "it's all about the test" because we are beating the love of reading out of our children in the name of too much emphasis on a single state test. Test prep has got to take a back seat to children loving to read. If our children do well on our state test and yet never pick up a book just for the love of wanting to read, then what have we accomplished?
What Steven Layne does is give us real "tried and true" ways to put the passion back into reading. As I read Richard Allington last week, he talked about giving our reluctant readers books they could read and books they would love to read to make the difference. Layne talks about our readers that can read, but don't (that he calls "alliterate" readers), but the message is the same. Give them books that they will love (even if you have to trick them!) and they will reach the reading volume that will, as a by-product, increase their reading ability.
Layne gives practical suggestions with tips for success. Some of my favorites...
- Know your readers (included are interest inventories for all ages) and actually specifically target a few students that aren't reading. Choose a book especially for them and tell them you were "thinking about them." This suggestion sent me to the book stores over the break to pick up some new train books for Parker!
- Set goals and use yourself as the model. Put your goal front and center and talk about it often. Have the kids write their goals and ask them about their goals... often!
- Read kids' books (he gives lots of great resources!) This makes me think that at Chets Creek we should encourage all our staff to read all of the Battle of the Books that we are encouraging our intermediate students to read and that we should figure out a way to have the staff members recommend the books to staff. We have a sign outside every teacher's door that says, "Mrs. Timmons is reading..." where teachers list the books that they are reading. maybe we should include a space where they list the Battle of the Books or other favorite KID books that they are reading...
- Give book chats to your class on a regular basis (and he tells exactly how to do it!)
- Read aloud. How often do intermediate teachers have to hear this before they actually do it?! The research is absolutely clear on the benefits of readalouds!
- Get a book stand and put a appropriate book for your students on it with a cool sign that says "Mrs. Timmons' Hot Read." You don't have to say a word. The students will soon ask about the book while you watch all of the extra copies fly off the library book shelf!
- Teach student specifically how to preview a book (and he "shows and tells"!) so that students know how to "shop" for a book that they would like.
- Discuss students' independent reading (he calls this "Buzz About Books"). This is done in groups of about 4 for about 15 minutes. The teacher joins a different group each time and joins the conversation as a reader. Layne even gives a focus/ topic for each Buzz time! He even has a system for a "status of the class" that takes just a few minutes to check on what everyone is reading.
- Invite an author to visit! My favorite Media specialist, KK Cherney, already is on to this! We have an author visit every year and the kids absolutely love the visits! Steven Layne is going to be my suggestion to her as our next author!