What is the goal of reading?
If you are in school, the goal is to achieve a certain reading level.
"Just Right Books" is a phrase kids know all too well.
There is such an emphasis on going up levels, that I see kids missing out on the wonder of story. The Magic of story is lost.
We test and test and, at our school, do "flight checks" with A to Z reading.
Second graders, and even first graders, are in such a hurry to read "chapter books" that the second they are allowed to check them out, they don't ever want to go back. Think of all the wonderful picture books they will never read because they consider it "too easy".
Just because a child is a level "R" in guided reading terms, doesn't mean there are any appropriate books for their age or maturity level.
Our second grade had to use Frindle as a read aloud. I LOVE Frindle. The conversations you can have with 4th, 5th, or 6th graders with this book can be deep and enlightening. Second graders can like the book, but will they really "get" it? Maybe a couple, but not in a group setting like that. And so many will never revisit it because they read it already. They will miss the "experience" because they already had a taste.
And then 4th graders will want to read the Hunger Games or Twilight series.
Rigor is killing reading.
As a family we have thousands of books. Literally, thousands. I am the "Book Whisperer" at our school. I bring the books my family has bought and read to share with kids. It breaks my heart when kids don't want to even look at a book that is completely appropriate, and that I know they will enjoy, because it isn't the latest teen love story novel.
The Book Whisperer was absolutely right when she said kids just need to read in order to improve their reading ability. We need to stop all the testing and teach how to discuss what they read. We need to build community around story and validate picture books as legitimate literature. That is when we will create greater understanding and comprehension.
Now is Read to Self
Now is Read to Someone
Now is Listen to Reading
Now is 20 minutes of reading at home
Now is time to fill out reading logs
Now is time to do a flight check
Now is time to write about what the character felt when...
Now is time to take a test
Now is time to compare two works with each other
Now is time to do the five finger test--Is it just right?
is killing reading.
The difference between learning to read and reading to learn used to be JOY. In our quest to build readers at younger and younger ages, the difference between learning to read and reading to learn will only be the age of the participants.
Joy of story and quest for knowledge should be the goal for all ages.
Let's stop with the RIGOR and instead breathe LIFE.