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Finding that one book that will ignite passion in a student who “doesn't like to read” is the best part of my job as a teacher of reading. It’s one of the reasons I added Library Science to my certifications. Sometime in the next five years, I hope to make the jump from the ELA classroom to the middle school library. I know it will be a huge change for me, not having a class to build those daily relationships with, but what I will still have is the chance to help kids build relationships with literature.
These last few weeks have been pretty successful for me. I have at least four kids who are wending their way through new series I introduced them to. I have two developing readers who have read an I Survived book I handed them in one day and successfully tested at 100% on AR on them the next. I have students lining up for the last books I book talked. And I have students pulling books from my classroom library daily because they trust that if it’s on my shelf, it’s probably worth reading.
I don’t understand middle level reading teachers who don’t make time to read what the kids are reading. I don’t understand how you can possibly consider yourself a reading teacher or a librarian when you haven’t read more than one young adult/middle grade book a month, if that. I don’t understand English teachers who belittle what a student chooses to read rather than to validate it. And I don’t understand how we think it’s okay to require students to read two books at a time -- one for class and one for “pleasure” -- then turn around and say we don’t think reading is important enough to make time for it in our daily lives.
I am surrounded by those people where I work. I get it, not everyone has the kind of time I have, or is willing to make the time I make, to read. I don’t have children, I don’t have a lot of family obligations, and I can make my own schedules for my free time without having to accommodate too many other people. What I don’t have is a lot of free time. I spend a lot of time working…as a union president, as a literacy coach, as an ELA teacher, and as a volunteer for various school activities. When I don’t have the time to read, as I haven’t the last couple of months, I feel like I’m not doing my job, even though reading books to share with my students never feels like work.
Right now the students in my school have limited people they can go to for help finding books, and that is limiting our ability to help our students grow into the readers they were meant to be. So while I am sure that, down the road I will be anxious about giving up my traditional classroom and making the transition to librarian, I am anxious in a different way to see what I can accomplish with the time and resources to help 500 students find their perfect book.
I’m going to need a bigger book budget!