Thursday, February 19, 2009

Learning to "love" reading

As many of you know, I am not an avid reader. Some of you may be privy to the knowledge that I learned to hate reading in grade 6 when my teacher, Mr, Wickenheiser (Yep, the famous women's hockey player... Hayley Wickenheiser's dad) made us write a book report every month. I should go and check my report cards, but I recall getting a 71% in English and walking home on the edge of the sidewalk all the way home knowing my parents were going to be upset. Over time, I got behind and books did not get read fast enough, not enough reports came in and I started getting in trouble and feeling lousy about reading. The next year, in grade 7, I remember we had to read the novel Shane with Mr. Dahl. I hated this book and for some reason could not get through it. I remember staying over night at my best friend Tammi's house and sleeping in her mom and dad's bed and I remember Tammi fast asleep (she read as fast as lightening) and me with the reading light on trying to answer questions and just get through the damn book at 1:00 a.m. Why was it so difficult?

Anyhow, all through high school I barely read a book, not even assigned books. Most teachers told you enough about them during class to pass the tests and in Mr. Maloney's (this was our alcoholic teacher, who literally wore the same set of clothes every day and reaked of cigarettes) case it really didn't matter if you knew anything, some people like me (and Tammi) cheated, as her older sisters had previously written all his tests and they never changed, others like hockey players just seemed to get good grades regardless of what they did and I had Mr. Maloney for 2 or 3 years of English, so there you have it - I just never did learn to read or enjoy reading! I was such a goodie goodie, I still can't believe I cheated, but I like to tell myself that I didn't have much of a choice because he was such a bad teacher?

So, what is the point of all this, well for 9 years now I have taught grade 6 English. I've always taught knowing what NOT to do based on my experiences. I've tried to make reading fun! I want the students to want to read. I never really cared how much they understood. I figure if they learned to like it, them they would read more and the more they read, the more words they would learn. The better they got at reading, the more they would in turn like reading and the better they would get at their own writing as well - or so this had been my theory!

Last semester I took a reading course and we had to do a lot of text book reading. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did I learned a lot. For each set of reading, we needed to journal on how this impacted our teaching and give examples. I kept finding myself making connections to why I didn't like reading and started forcing myself to read before bed. The only books I had ever read before and enjoyed were books for kids in grade 6-8, seems to be about my reading level (pretty sad). I love Harry Potter and then was introduced to the Twilight series and love those too. So, then I decided I needed to try some adult literature and started talking to friends about what they read. My girlfriend, Pam lent me some books, mostly Harlequin Romances. My course ended and I got 92%, a real nice surprise for me considering it was all based on reading and I had to do tonnes of reading for it. I learned that making reading fun is the best way to encourage kids to want to read, but that I really do have to teach them how to read better, so that they have the tools to enjoy what they read more. Trying to do that and keep it fun becomes a bit of a challenge, so I am currently working on that.

As for the adult novels, well let's just say the Harlequin Romance novels are quite interesting. They certainly have the power to boost your sex life, well come on, how many times can I read about someone else having sex without wanting it myself. Let's just say Jay doesn't mind my wanting to read more. The "smut" book as I refer to them or my colleague at work says, "soft porn", is a nice change from the likes of Harry Potter, but to be truthful, not really my type of book. I like something with more of a mystery, remember I like Criminal Minds, Medium and Heroes, so more action and solving of crimes, etc. I will keep searching for the perfect books for me, but if you have any recommendations, I am all ears!

No comments: