Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Vera Goodman on Reluctant Readers

It's kind of crazy that I am teaching at a school that appears to have such a bottom up approach to reading. My school teaches all the parts of language to teach kids to read. I think it works well. My real love as far as teaching reading though is more rooted in a top-down approach: Whole Language. Whole Language really gets a lot of flack (mostly from people who don't understand it) but I really really believe the approach has a place (and includes all the bottom up stuff!)

...and now for my nerdy confession: One of the authors we read a lot in University was Vera Goodman. I grew to love Vera Goodman. I thought she was absolutely brilliant.

....and guess what? She is my friend on facebook!!! (I really had to show some self-control to refrain from putting that all in caps!)

She posted a great article recently on reluctant readers....here are some of her tips that I nodded to as I read:

  • Reading is solitary and children want to be groupies. To read we need to be in a quiet place to have a silent conversation with a story and we need to love it enough to choose to be there.

  • The secret of hooking kids on books is to find a series that, like Harry Potter, pulls them into a compelling story – one they can’t put down. This involves time on a parent’s part to choose books from the library and then to read the first chapters to them aloud. When they find one that excites them to find out ‘What’s Next?’ you have the right book.

  • When I taught Junior High I had some reluctant readers. So I looked for a series that would interest them and that they were capable of reading on their own. I took time to introduce them to the series by reading the first chapter of the first book aloud and discussing it. When I found a book that grabbed them they would finish the series and look for another. My work was over!

  • You might choose to read at least this first book yourself so you can share the excitement and discuss the story and the issues with your reluctant reader. As adults we like to join book clubs to share a good book. Your child will enjoy doing this with you too, and it will engender a lifelong love of books.

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