This week, I read the first two chapters of Book Love, by Penny Kittle. I have to say, it was nice to read a textbook written by an actual teacher, as opposed to a researcher. Kittle spoke from so many experiences, and her writing is very relatable. I can tell this might actually be a textbook I enjoy!
Even as an elementary education major, I found much of Kittle’s writing useful. I hope to teach upper elementary, and I’ve seen that attitude of disliking reading starting as early as 4th or 5th grade. Kittle talked a lot in the first two chapters about students that hold these kinds of attitudes. You see kids get frustrated within the initial pages and give up on a book. You see kids that will go to great extents to ‘fake read’ just to not have to actually go through the process that seems rather agonizing to them. Kittle shares that many students read below grade level, and asking them to read something too complex is setting them up for failure. In order for students to work up to these more complex books, the need to build their stamina with books that they personally enjoy.
The thing that resonated the most with me about Kittle was how many times she used the word balance. It’s not that required readings and classics should be completely done away with…they just don’t need to be the one and only focus. By allowing students a time for choice, you allow them a chance to become better readers. Kittle says, “Students who I believe are determined nonreaders become committed, passionate readers given the right books, time to read, and regular response to their thinking.” This is so true–I believe no student is destined to hate reading. It is possible for every single student to love reading. As teachers, we just need to make the book fit the student, not make the student fit the book.