Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Book Lust

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Book Lust

Article excerpt

Were you one of those youngsters who had to be pried away from a book? Like me, I'll bet you have vivid memories of hiding beneath blankets with flashlights so you could read in bed at night or in cars while your family sped off to visit relatives or go on vacation.

I long ago decided that reading a good book is a lot like falling in love. When I'm in the throes of a good book, I want nothing more than to spend all of my time with that book. I don't want to eat, I don't want to fall asleep, I don't want any interruptions. I don't want anything to take me away from my beloved. I want only to immerse myself in those pages of print. And when the book ends, I'm disappointed that there isn't more. Very often, about 10 to 12 pages before the end of a book, I will deliberately set it aside just so I know I can return to it the next day. Then I savor those remaining pages.

I worry, as does Steven Wolk who writes in this month's Kappan, that we are not doing enough to excite that same love of reading in our students.

We spend a lot of energy focusing on literacy. But love of reading goes beyond literacy. Literacy suggests that individuals can make out the words on a page and find some sense in them. They can comprehend what they read. That's absolutely important. But it's a minimal standard. To be the society that we want to be, we need citizens who thirst for reading and for knowledge. In the parlance of the day, schools must add value to literacy by helping their students love to read. And that means shaking off our dependence on textbooks and stretching to find new ways to excite kids about reading.

Set Reading Goals

A friend of mine is principal of a suburban middle school that has predictably high test scores in reading. …

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