Reading Should Be A Pleasure

In a stack of papers called Reading.

  • Mar
  • 14
  • 2006

Because it is required, do teachers routinely enforce a hatred of reading in most teens? Is there a way to read a book as a class, yet keep the same joy in reading it by choice? Can teachers keep to a reading schedule without falling back on daily quizzes to check for completing the reading? Are in-class projects that demonstrate an understanding of the previous night’s reading as effective at telling who did the homework? How can a teacher take into consideration both the understanding of students’ habit to procrastinate and the standards to be covered with the text to create an effective novel unit? Since so many of the things that are put in place to achieve instructional ends are the things that make students miserable when reading a novel, how can we put the fun back into reading while still measuring comprehension and critical thinking?

Feel The Freedom Within Restraints

We’re reading Siddhartha in English 4 right now. I know that when students elect to read that book on their own, it regularly ranks as a favorite. So I’m trying to go through the book as a whole class while still giving them a chance to enjoy the novel. Figuring out ways to do that has been the challenge.

Today, before we moved to talking about Siddhartha’s attitude toward his father in chapter 1, we had a brief discussion about how to keep reading fun in class. Everything that most teachers do with novels in a class (quizzes, essays, reading schedule, study questions, etc.) came up as ways to suck the pleasure out of reading. Any ideas about how to teach a novel and not kill it? How do we strike a balance between allowing the freedom necessary to enjoy something and the restrictions needed to keep the class moving?

1 comment

1. Trent says:

[7/31/2006 - 6:57 am]

My high school English teacher, one of the most influential people in my life, used to tackle some books by simply turning the class into discussion of the book for two weeks. No quizzes, no tests, no anything; all you had to do was make a relevant comment about the book during the discussion and you earned a point.

He set some distinct number of points required for each grade level, but he didn’t tell anyone in the class what this point level was; he simply said that you’re going to have to actively participate to get a good grade.

Independently, he pulled a couple students aside (the ones who were good at discussion) and told them that if they kept the discussion pot stirred up and didn’t tell anyone about their agreement, they would earn a perfect score for the section.

This allowed people to read and pull out of it what they felt was interesting and important, and together as a class we were able to make some interesting dissections of a number of books. Even better, for the most part, the students did the discussing themselves once the teacher got them started.