Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Second-Grade Muse

I wondered how much time I might have to think about teaching during my family reunion in Iowa last week. And while I could have embraced a total vacation from these thoughts, my seven-year-old nephews stepped in to sustain them: the two are fascinatingly avid readers, wonderful models for anyone who would cultivate independent reading habits in a class of teenagers.

Years of reading with their parents at nearly every juncture of the day (breakfast, pre-nap, lunch time, etc.) have whetted their literary interests. During our travels last week, it was not uncommon to see one curled up with anything from Percy Jackson to Super Diaper Baby. For hours on the road, they listened raptly to detailed audio dramatizations of Greek myths, recounting characters and events with specificity that often exceeded their parents' and my recollection.

The source of their total affinity? Immersion. Years marinating in words, stories, characters, suspense. How can I replicate this in my classroom, balance this imperative with other objectives while trying to compensate for the years some students have spent indifferent to books?

Fortunately, kids are inquisitive and drawn to narratives at every age, even when they need a little help finding great stories. I am reading about using literature circles to introduce choice into classroom reading, and I am still considering different methods of launching students' independent reading. I will follow up with thoughts on this soon, before the start of the new school year.

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