Sometimes kids surprise you. For twenty minutes before my reading student Danielle (not her real name) arrived, I had been preparing book recommendations. Danielle has informed me that she “did not like to read,” and yet also claims to enjoy graphic novels and fantasy books. Interesting. So I had traveled down to the library to grab a couple of titles in each of these genres for her, along with one more book I knew to be widely popular with our middle school readers.
Returning to my office, I slid into my desk chair and pulled up Amazon on my computer screen. A strategy I’ve found to be successful with some of the uncommitted or unmotivated readers I work with is, after procuring a small stack of recommended books, to locate “kid reviews” for books and print them off. This way, the books I recommend aren’t just endorsed by me– “See, kids like them, too!” I say.
Danielle has not read many books this year, a fact that sends a cold shock of urgency through my body. I’ve got to get her reading.
With a small stack of books now prepared (a strategy based on an idea presented in Kylene Beers’ article, “Choosing Not to Read: Understanding Why Some Middle Schoolers Just Say No,”) I awaited Danielle’s arrival.
Then, pushing through the door, came the surprise. “Mr. Ball, I know what I want to read! It’s called Middle School, and my mom’s going to buy me the book after school!”
I smiled. “That’s great!” I replied. Sometimes kids surprise you.