Teaching Againist the Odds: Instilling a Love of Reading
...As a lover of reading, I place a very high value on reading and believe that one of the most important ways a teacher can influence his or her students in terms of long term educational success is to instill in them a love of reading.
|Books as a conversation starter.|
Returning to the issue of misguided perceptions of teachers, it can be summed up by explaining why I don’t lend first graders books. Why not, you ask? Aren’t they also in need of being exposed to colorful, engrossing, and fun books? Well, I don’t give books to first graders because I was told by their teacher, “Don’t give them any books because they can’t read yet.” I am still stunned by that request. Research shows that “as students become engaged readers, they provide themselves with self-generated learning opportunities that are equivalent to several years of education.”1 Additionally, other studies show that children who are read to as young children (i.e. exposed to books and the written word before they can read), have higher vocabulary rates than children of the same age who were not read to.2 Children need exposure to books well before they can read so they can learn the very basics of handling books, turning pages, holding conversations about pictures, and last but not least learning how to read. Not giving books to children who can’t read yet is like not speaking to a child because they can’t speak yet. As Jacqueline Kennedy once said "There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." I just take for granted that a teacher should encourage the act of reading in a child of any age, and I was surprised and disappointed to learn my colleague had a different perspective.