|FOR THE LOVE OF READING|
|FOR THE LOVE OF READING|
I like big books.
Really. I cannot lie. The bigger, the better. When I find a book I might like to read, I immediately judge it for its size. I want a book that will last a long, long time. Usually, I want to find one that will never end. Because, remember, I love to read. I am so, so sad when the reading ends.
As a person who supports teachers, I often am perplexed by the mini-ness of so much of our work with students.
We have mini-lessons, short texts, one-page articles, short blocks of time. We have quick-writes and short centers (that often last for 11 minutes or less). Even guided reading lessons are often reduced to 10 minute blocks. Independent reading has shrunk down to something barely visible in most classrooms. There is often very little actual reading happening in classrooms. Miniature times. Miniature lessons.
Our time and lessons are shrinking while books continue to be big, bigger or biggest. Text is still complex and requires time to think. The ideas are big. Vocabulary is big and sophisticated. Authors continue to amaze me with the complexity and beauty of the texts they create. Big, beautiful books. We need time to read them, think about them, become residents in their language and soak it in for a while. We need lots of time for the work of becoming real readers.
But even basic texts require time for students to practice solving words, thinking about what to try next, developing capacity to use strategies as a real reader. It all takes time. It is big work in a very small world.
I understand, from a daily schedule perspective, that we, as educators, struggle with never having enough time. So, we devise ways to fit many many instructional opportunities into smaller and smaller spaces.
But when it comes to teaching a child to read, we should not minimize the importance of big. Big ideas, big thinking, big words, big books. Does all this fit into mini?
All students need time to process and practice. Sometimes, a small lesson is just what they need to push them to the next place in their development as a reader. Sometimes, a few minutes is enough.
But other times, they may need a lesson that gives them the time and space to think deeply over time. They may need guided reading that supports them through the reading of a very, very big book. They may need days and weeks of time to build stamina for reading those texts as they become a real reader of longer, more sophisticated text.
A reader who looks for the biggest book on shelf and thinks, I wish it were longer. I don’t ever want the reading to end.
It is possible. In a world of mini-teaching we can create the space and time to teach our students how to dive into complex text and become readers of big beautiful books that last a long time. We must do this.
We can do it. We can, together.
Suzanne Hostrawser is a literacy consultant that can help make sure you have time for the big thinking that books require.
Contact her today at firstname.lastname@example.org.