Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are posting a slice each day on our blog. Join in!
My students and I were discussing changes in reading habits last week, and I confessed to them that I have been in a reading slump of late, not being able to settle down to focus on any one thing. They were shocked when I said I hadn't read anything much for almost three weeks, and one even asked if I was okay. I told him that no, I really wasn't, that there were too many things, nothing major, but all time-consuming and annoying, that were getting in the way of me being able to focus on reading. But more than that, what it really has come down to lately is that I am out of the reading zone because I don’t know what I want to read.
This weekend I did some clean-up of my piles…finished a couple of young adult sci-fi/fantasy trilogies, read a young adult mystery and a humor book from the public library that are due back next week, and started to wend my way through This Star Won’t Go Out so the John Green fans in my classroom can get their hands on it by the middle of the week.
When I look at the stacks of books I have and scroll through the e-books on my Kindle, I have multiple genres represented. I tend to cycle through genres, reading four or five fantasy before skipping over to read a few mysteries. I throw non-fiction in between fiction reads to clear my head of one story before starting another. And I usually only tackle one literary fiction title at a time before defaulting back to another genre.
I watch my students cycle through the same phases of reading preferences, zoning in and out. The girls in my Pre-Ap class who devoured Nicholas Sparks at the beginning of the year, are now all reading the Divergent series. Two of my boys are “taking a break” from the sports books for a while to read a couple of extra stories about the Holocaust from our past unit of study, but I imagine as they can begin to get outside and play, baseball books will be on their lists again. Many of the sixth graders can’t find anything they want to read after running out of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries.
Literature speaks to people in different ways at different times. Certain books and genres have certain appeal depending on the time of year, time of life, or mood of the reader. I hear other reading teachers complain that kids are reluctant to read outside of their comfort zones or don’t make time for reading, but if we really look at our adult reading lives, we find that we enter into those zones as well.
We need to honor our students’ reading cycles, as we want our own to be honored. Sometimes there is just too much going on to be able to focus on any one book, or it is too difficult to find one that meets their current needs. We need to practice a little patience and help them through the ruts in the reading road until they get into the zone again. We always manage to get back into the zone eventually; we need to teach our students how to find theirs.