"Why do we have to read?"
"I've never read a book on my own!"
"This one has too many pages."
And as Eliza Doolittle sang, "I'm so sick of words!"
In the life of an English teacher, these words are heartbreaking. To think that lots of teens these days do not consider reading as something to do in their spare time, voluntarily, saddens me. Even the advent of e-readers (love my nook!) doesn't seem to bridge that gap between paper and electronic books. Regardless, while they're stuck with me, my students will read and hopefully some will get turned on to the idea that books really aren't as bad as they seem to be.
In addition to at least four novels read as part of the class curriculum, I'm having my seniors read an additional two books of their (guided) choice. From a stack of pre-determined novels, they chose one to read for each semester and then will do an analytical paper of sorts about it. So I feel a bit better about my kids' exposure to classic and contemporary literature if only in the confines of MHS!
But, there is a huge push in the education world to get our kids reading well at an early age and then keep up that skill as they get older. Somewhere around middle school it seems it drops off and in this age of state assessments, there is a need to light that fire again in high school so students can practice basic reading and comprehension skills. Don't get me wrong, there are just as many avid readers as non-readers so all is not lost. We just need to keep enforcing the importance of good reading skills and the idea that reading for pleasure is not dorky.
The MEA has partnered with the Detroit Red Wings to promote reading this fall and winter. Students can earn discount tickets for a Wings game if they register with the program and read five books by March 2012. I'm going to look into it for my second-grade daughter. I'll keep things posted as to how it goes.
Michigan Reads Registration