My students come from very diverse backgrounds, with one unifying factor: poverty. Over 70% of our school qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Along with poverty, many have had significant trauma in early childhood, while some continue to experience it on a daily basis.
Our goal as a school is to compassionately teach the whole student, and work to serve both academic and emotional needs of kids.
My school serves a wide variety of students of many different races, ethnicities, languages, and cultures. My goal as a teacher (and as a human being!) is to understand, respect, and guide all of my students throughout 7th grade.
Unfortunately, one thing my students have in common is an extreme dislike of reading. Many of my students come from word poverty. Of all the students I teach this year, approximately 10% are reading on grade level. They have anxieties and negative predispositions about the act of reading. I have worked very hard to make sure that my students are surrounded by high-quality, high-interest books that represent diverse protagonists, and that has made a transformational difference in reading in my classroom.
I have been teaching for 7 years. Every year, there are a handful of kids who WILL NOT read. No matter what I do. This year is different. This year I have carefully crafted a reading culture in my classroom.
In order to create a successful reading culture, you must have books.
Lots and lots of books. Books about a wide variety of topics. Books featuring a wide variety of protagonists, male and female, of many ethnicities and races and cultures. Research shows that students who see more books, read more books. There is no money to buy new books that kids will love, unless that money is my own. I spend an embarrassingly large amount of money buying books for my students, and I am asking you for help.
Allowing my students choice in what they read empowers them as readers and students. It also is one of the many steps in engaging reluctant readers. In my class, we spend a great deal of time reading, talking about our books, sharing about our books, and creating an environment where reading is exciting. The books I've chosen are intentionally selected to entice readers who may see themselves as kids who don't like to read or are bad at reading. In order to help students become lifelong readers (and mature beyond the developing reading stage) they must have practice reading engaging and entertaining books of their own choosing.
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