Each day over a hundred energetic eighth graders pass in and out of my ELA classroom. Many describe themselves as non-readers. I tell them they just haven't found the right book yet.
I work in a Title 1 school with many, many kids who are considered "At Risk".
This past school year, over 65% of our students were on free and reduced lunch. The majority of one of my class periods consisted of English Language Learners. Many will be the first to graduate high school in their family--if they make it.
My students are fantastic. They are diverse, they are spunky, and they want to learn. Most of all, they are fascinated by the fact that I love to read. Many did not grow up being read to or surrounded by books.
Even without the newest fancy technology or buildings, our students are some of the kindest, most caring individuals. They value community and they give what they can to each other.
I'm requesting fifty (50) books for my classroom library. Last school year I implemented a Reader's Workshop into my curriculum because I believe that all children can become life-long readers. Backed with research done by Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller, I jumped into creating an atmosphere of choice and love of reading.
With only about 600 titles--almost all donated, it was wildly successful.
Of course, my students continue to clamor for more books! I created an Amazon Wishlist to keep track of all the book requests from students and to add some of my own as I research books for teens.
My goal is that students read every single day. The more books I have for them to choose from, the better chance that we will find the one that will spark their love of reading.
I can't imagine anything more fulfilling than going from being a non-reader--or a reluctant reader--to a life-long lover of books.
The enjoyment alone is a reward.
Of course tons of research also shows that those who read more are more successful in a multitude of ways. Those who read fiction tend to be more empathetic and compassionate. Students who read over 200 pages a week tend to stay in college.
Reading ONLY improves lives. There is no negative.
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