So, a little while ago I was tagged in a post about reading in schools by Michaela at The Pied Piper Calls. (You might remember her from a few guest reviews that she did. You can find her post here, with links to the originator of this tag, Ariel Bisset. There are three sections to this tag: elementary school, high school and beyond. Let’s talk!
What technique do you think teachers should use to engage young readers?
Personally, I think there are a few unique ways to engage readers. You really have to read your class to know which one will work, though. Sometimes it can be as simple as reading aloud a little every day. My brother might never had desired to learn how to read if our teacher hadn’t started reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini in class. My brother got so fed up about how slow the pace was going that he decided to learn how to read faster. It was a huge moment for him.
Then there’s also the way I was taught the alphabet and–by extension–the basics of reading. My teacher drew the letters of the alphabet on the board, and then colored them in to give them personalities and stories. Like, for instance, the letter P because a profile of a woman’s face, a princess who had a little story filled with words about the letter P. We would practice drawing the letter by drawing her portrait and other scenes from the story.
I also really loved being able to read aloud to the little kids. I was ahead in my reading ability, so I got to go to the lower grades/kindergartners and read to them for story time. The idea that a group of people are being enraptured by something you’re doing is very powerful. I love to do it to this day.
Do you think that it is the school’s job to instill a love of reading in children?
No. In fact, I think that if they start to see it as a job, then it’s just going to get worse. Granted, no teacher should ever create a reading list with the hope that their students hate it. Everything possible should be done to make the children want to read. But it shouldn’t be a forced thing. There are always going to be those children who don’t want to read. But the goal is to make sure that those kids who have the ability to find joy in reading are given every opportunity to grab a hold of a book and fall into the fantasy.
What was your favorite elementary school read?
You know, I actually don’t really remember. I read SO MUCH. I read EVERYTHING. I went through the shelves at my library again and again and again. I do have a distinct memory of going book by book through the library’s collection of Nancy Drew novels, though. But I read other things like the Royal Diaries series, Animorphs… If I could get my hands on it, I was trying to read it!
Do you think that incorporation of YA books should be made? If so which YA books would you add?
Absolutely. I think this is one of the best ways to help engage young readers to the material. There are plenty of books out there that don’t drag about like a lot of the required school reading. I actually did a Top Ten Tuesday post about this a while ago. Not all of these were YA (I think I did one of those a longer while ago…?), but still. I would most certainly add books like:
Do you think it is important to read books from a wide variety of nationalities?
Absolutely. Giving students the world of literature from a narrow scope of humanity is a huge negative. I know for a fact I didn’t start reading most of this until high school, and by then it was almost too late. And people seem to forget that there are books by other writers of nationalities that aren’t specifically, in your face about their cultures. Just reading a work of fantasy fiction informed by a culture behind the scenes can have a huge impact on what you’re reading.
What was your least favorite book in high school?
Ok, this isn’t exactly a book, but I still had to read it so … yeah. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen. I hated that sucker. You can read more about the books I read around that time in The Book Reviews I Couldn’t Give My Teacher.
Do you think there should be an emphasis on creative writing?
Define emphasis? I got lucky: I walked into creative writing of my own accord when I was younger. But the thing is, I don’t remember someone telling me it was a thing I could do, you know? At the very least, teachers could tell kids that creating your own stories isn’t a bad. thing. I was lucky I was at a school that encouraged creativity. I know other people who’ve been made fun of because they liked to “make stuff up.” Give kids the option. Heck, they could write fan-fic about the terrible required reads they’re stuck with. (Do you know how much fun I could have had making Hedda Gabler better? Because dude.)
How do you think the reading you did in school has affected the reading you do now?
Considering that I had one of the weirdest school experiences you could ever ask for, my answer is also really unique. In a way, a lot of the reading I did for school really pushed me away from “required reads” that took a lot of my brain power. At the same time, the idea that there is an entire class where you read a book and then discuss it blew my mind. English classes made me want to read stranger books with other people and talk about them and puzzle out what the same books mean to different people. My reading taste is strange as anything, but will get even stranger when I’m reading with others. (Example: the Bibliomancy for Beginners Book Club. Search that in my tags.)
If you had to choose one book that you’ve read in the past year outside of school, to be taught in schools, which would you choose?
Without fail and without question, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I’ve written dozens of Top Ten Tuesdays and other posts about this (seriously, search it) so I won’t do it again. But, I mean, I just presented in my Studies in Children’s and Young Adult Literature class about this book because IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET YOU HAVE FAILED YOURSELF. Seriously.