Readers are readers. So often the words reluctant, struggling, striving, remedial, and even nonreaders are words used in our profession to describe children. I'm always a little uncomfortable with these labels (I think we all are). I wonder if the children start to feel them and begin to believe in them.
You see, I'm a gardener. Actually I'm a terrible gardener. If you stop by my house in the heat of July you will find my plants in need of watering and the weeds are beginning to win the battle for space. You see, I'm not the best gardener. I love to garden. I enjoy deciding what will be in the garden and getting it planted. I enjoy watching the plants begin to grow. I enjoy working outside in the sun for some perceived purpose. However, somewhere in July when the sun gets hot, and we find ourselves busy, the garden begins to be overtaken. By August I'm struggling to have something make it through the summer. When it is time to spend hours in the garden harvesting, I'm busy spending hours in my classroom preparing for a new school year. It never goes as planned.
Yes, I'm a gardner. Not as good as my neighbor, not as productive as the gardener down the street, now as experienced as many....but I'm a gardener. Gardeners will talk with me about their work. Stores will let me buy all kinds of tools and gardening supplies. I suppose I could be called a reluctant gardener or a struggling gardener, but no one ever says that.
I feel the same way about reading. Students are all readers. They all come with different experience and different places on their learning paths, but they're all readers. As a community we come together to talk about the choices readers make, books they want to read, and authors that are a must. My students talk with each other about books and share equally in the conversation.
Time for independent reading is an important part of our day. My students would yell and scream if I even attempted to cut that out of their day. There would be a mutiny. My students love to take home picture books, and I've found ways to support that in our classroom. In our classroom, students choose the books they will take home each day. Overwhelmingly they love to carry picture books home to share with their families. Here you will see some of the ways this works in our community and the characteristics of books which support readers.
Following is a link to our presentation today about Picture Book Possibilities: Using Literature to Collaborate with Learners with Katie DiCesare, Kathy Collins, Ann Marie Corgill and myself.
Here are the links to other presenter blogs: