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Reading Jail?

September 21, 2018

I am not against reading but I am against reading jail.

 

We know that the best way to teach our kids to read is to expose them to reading materials that align with their interests. This makes reading interesting which makes them more likely to do it. The more they read, the better they get at it. The better they get, the more fun it is. The more fun it is, the more likely they are to do it and the more likely the are to:

 

  1. slow down and really take in what they are reading,

  2. think about what they are reading and,

  3. talk to friends and/or family about what they are reading.

 

Those thing improve their reading comprehension which is what boosts their test scores. 

 

Timed mandated, daily, graded reading assignments do the opposite of this. They take what is a fun activity when you get to choose when, where, what and how long and turn it into an obligation, a chore. This causes kids to:

 

  1. do it as fast as possible to just get it done,

  2. spend more time wondering how much longer they have to do this than actually paying attention to what they are reading,

  3. enter into conflicts with caregivers about having to do it at all, and

  4. avoid doing it for pleasure.

 

This is the opposite of the goal of such assignments. So by making these mandatory assignments you are actually working at cross-purposes to your own mission.

 

To make an analogy, if reading assignments were behavior management strategies, giving students added access to reading materials the will enjoy and the option of reading is PBIS and the mandatory reading assignment is penalty based systems using detention, demerits, loss of recess, etc. It’s effectively reading jail and it discourages reading. In fact, it can suck the joy out of reading for kids who learned to read the other way, causing a net loss in reading time and reading skills acquisition.

 

Need ideas of how to craft positive, encouraging reading programs to foster a love of reading?

I’m happy to provide you with some suggestions.

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I am not against reading but I am against reading jail.

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September 21, 2018

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