Why Students Don’t Read What is Assigned in Class

*This is blog post #5 in the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge*

Since our building has goneschool-wide with Daily 5/Cafe, my beliefs on teaching literacy have changed dramatically from when I started teaching.  I only wish that I could go back in time and teach reading the way my awesome teachers are now.  My beliefs have been influenced by “The Sisters,” Regie Routman, Donalyn Miller, and Kelly Gallagher.  If you are an elementary principal or are in a position to have anything to do with teaching literacy, then you had better know who these educators/authors are and read their books! If you’re in Middle/High School, don’t close this window yet…

A while back, someone tweeted out a link for the following video that I think sums up one of my new core reading beliefs: when students are allowed to choose what they are reading, they will read more and grow as readers.

Does your literacy program/classroom give students a choice in what they read?

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Krystal Stevenson

    I am a History/Science teacher at an alternative high school and I am lucky enough to have a husband work at a book store. Even though I am not a Reading or English teacher, I keep numerous current teen books on my shelf. At first no one gave notice. Slowly, I would have a student here or there pick out a book. Now I can’t stop them from wanting to pick a book! This was my hope and goal. Promote reading without a student feeling forced to read. I remember being a teen and not wanting to read because “some one told me I had to read.” Teenagers will resist authority, so make it a choice. Granted, the classics need to be read, I say read those together as a class and discuss. When it comes to required independent reading or summer reading, let the student choose what fulfills their needs. I also am a strong believer of keeping books in a classroom, even if your not teaching that subject. I love taking an interest in what my students are reading and enjoy them coming into my class excited about what they read. In fact, their attitude towards learning is better.

  2. maherrera

    I was in high school well before ‘Spark Notes’ (although there were Cliff Notes) and I can’t imagine not having done the required reading! That being said, I am intrigued by what these students have to say about knowing themselves as readers. I’m wondering …- if we could assure that in elementary and middle schools would that allow students to access classics in high school?

  3. Tia

    Hi Jessica,

    I want to thank you for posting this video! Wow! So eye-opening for me. I hadn’t really thought of this, to be honest. But, in today’s age of technology, why would students read things they are not interested in reading. Better yet, why *should* they? There are a few teachers trying our Daily-5 and Cafe next year. I look forward to sharing this video with them. Actually, do you mind if I share it on my blog? 🙂


  4. Joy Kirr

    Thank you for this video!!! I need to share it with every teacher I know!!! -@JoyKirr

  5. PrincipalJ

    Thank you everyone for your comments. Krystal-it is amazing to me that as a Science/History teacher you are encouraging reading…I wish all would do the same!
    Tia-I did not make this youtube video, just came across it (from someone’s tweet) this Spring.

  6. My daughter (going into 9th grade) just watched the last part of this video and said “See, why can’t we do that?” If my daughter, someone who read 50 books last year, is saying this, what are those who aren’t good reading thinking? Thank you for posting this and provoking our thinking! 🙂


  7. Kari

    This is totally Penny Kittle!! I can tell her voice! Reading Workshop in the high school does work!

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