Before I get to my interview today, I want to do another WHAT-DO-YOU-THINK-I-SHOULD-READ challenge. Earlier this year, I asked my friends on Facebook to suggest books they thought I should read and I posted a review on my blog. My sister-in-law really gave me a doozy, but I’m glad I read it and I’ve actually thought about a few times since then. So give me your suggestions. Either leave them in the comments or email me. I won’t be reading much now until December.
I’m ecstatic to introduce you to my guest today. I met Micah ages ago before I even became a teacher. Since then we’ve kept up with each other and shared some incredible discussions about our love of books and reading. We’ve argued over cannon and the true purpose of books. (There was a time the argument got too heated, but that is for a much later post). When I mentioned to Micha about my blog, he wanted to be a part. So I’ve asked him to share his views on Silent Sustained Reading and free reading. I think you will see, he provides interesting observations.
Thank you, Terri, for letting me be a part of your blog. I knew this would be fun. I also knew you would find an outlet for your crazy ideas (Micah stay focused, please). I’m a gargoyle. It is my job to sit and guard one of the world’s most famous libraries. I am not at liberty to tell you which one, though. I’ve been a part of the library since the very beginning.
I bet you’ve seen a lot over the years. Do you get much of a chance to read or does it take all your time to guard the library?
I have to do all my reading at night. Most of the patrons would have a hard time with a gargoyle walking around.
What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy I suppose, but I really love the classics. There is nothing like sitting down and reading a four or five hundred page book.
What is the favorite part of your job?
Watching the kids come in to get books. There is something very magical about that first time a child uses a library card to check out books.
When I first started teaching you and I spent a lot of time arguing over what kids should read.
Yes, there is a lot of debate that goes on about what kids should read and how it should be tracked. I suppose there will always be debate over what happens inside a classroom, though. But here’s what I can tell you. When children are allowed to read what they want without and accountability attached to it, they enjoy reading a lot more.
Without formal accountability how can we be ensured that students read and learn?
There is a difference between reading for pleasure and reading to learn. I think classroom time is full of preparing students for accountability measures. There really isn’t much time for pleasure reading. If reading is tied to accountability, it is no longer reading just for the sake of reading. These silly computer programs that encourage students to read and read just to advance along some arbitrary progression is not pleasuer reading. Children become more interested in advancing levels than reading books.
What if students want to read magazines or even graphic novels?
Pleasure reading should encompass all reading materials. Besides, have you even seen the vocabulary possibilities in a graphic novel? I met Stephen Krashen once. He and I had a great conversation about the power of reading. He is a huge proponent of SSR or Free Voluntary Reading. I knew about this idea for a long time. It took everyone else a while to catch up. Teachers really started using this method in the early 80’s.
Since you brought up SSR and FVR, how are teachers supposed to hold students accountable and what happens if one student reads War and Peace while another one reads Nancy Drew?
Terri, have you not listened to anything I’ve said over the years? During SSR, students need to be free. They have to be able to make decisions for themselves and use self-accountability or it is no longer pleasure reading.
Does this apply to adults too? I know a lot of my friends like to read YA books.
I think it absolutely applies to adults. Once you take on the responsibilities of adulthood, there are not a lot of chances to just relax and enjoy. If reading does that for you then let it whether it is YA lit or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. Just read.
I absolutely agree. I bet you have some great stories. Will you come back and share some of your insights again?
Of course. I remember one time a young couple walked into the cooking section wearing…
That will be all Micah.
What? They were wearing matching aprons.
Of course, they were.