In the first week of school, I asked my students to brainstorm and discuss why people read. I believe that it is important for students to intentionally think about why we do the things we do in an English class. The skills that they will learn and practice in my classroom are skills that will be essential and applicable in a wide variety of contexts in their lives. While few of them are likely to professionally read and analyze fictional novels for a living, the texts that we read and the tasks that we complete build students’ abilities to think critically, to write and speak clearly, and to evaluate effectively.
Despite the fact that students often claim to not see the point in tasks like reading poetry and writing essays, each of my classes produced a well-developed list of purposes for real-world reading, including research, enjoyment, and self-improvement.
We also discussed some of the habits of readers, the considerations that they make when choosing what to read or when actually reading. We were able to collaboratively list a wide range of factors that readers consider and questions that they ask themselves when deciding what to read and when evaluating the books that they choose to read.
These conversations have given us an exciting start for our year! These, as well as subsequent conversations, have sparked a renewed interest in many of my readers. If I accomplish little else this year, but I can help my students find joy and value in reading, then I will consider this year a great success.