Reading for pleasure – how’s that?

I love to read. I will read almost any genre of text. I have particularly been a lover of science fiction and mystery or spy fiction. I don’t know how I learned to enjoy books. In, The Pleasures of Children’s Literature, Nodelman and Reimer invite the reader to consider which strategies they use to enjoy literature and how they learned them. I am blessed or cursed with a memory for very little prior to the age of 12 and I am not sure if I know which strategies I was taught and when. I know that my mother read to us from early on and continued to read aloud to us until I was at least 12. I don’t know if she taught us strategies explicitly. I expect not but we talked about what she read.

I know I had some excellent English teachers in high school but I couldn’t tell you if they taught me any enjoyment strategies. I do remember the odd lesson on writing and I remember a great many of the books we read.I remember memorizing passage of Shakespeare, although I couldn’t tell you if that enhanced my enjoyment of the plays or not. I do like the bits which run through my head now as a result. “It is the east and Juliet is the sun.” “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” “To be or not to be that is the question, whether it is better to…”hmmm. Now I’d just Google it, if I really wanted to know.

I know that I visualize particularly effectively. I don’t remember anyone ever teaching me to do that. I do know that I can finish reading a book and some months later, I can not recall whether I saw it as a movie or in a book. The images are clear and vivid. I had considerable trouble in the first Harry Potter movie, when Ron and the twins looked wrong in comparison to the book. I got over it by the second movie but as accurate as the rest of the casting seemed those did not fit the images in my mind.

As a parent and teacher, I watch and teach my children with enthusiasm, the strategies I think will help, when I think they will be of assistance. My son is a new reader, although he has had a reading identity for some time. He uses all kinds of strategies. Mostly innately. I don’t recall teaching him to question the text or wonder aloud but he does it. I have taught him some cuing skills to deal with decoding but nothing deliberate about enjoyment.

I wonder about teaching pleasure. What can I teach to teach enjoyment of books? It is an interesting question. I’ll see what comes up.

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4 Comments

Filed under children's lit, curriculum, education, library

4 responses to “Reading for pleasure – how’s that?

  1. I believe children learn enjoyment by engaging with the text. They learn through experiencing the text possibly through being read to and the oral discourse that takes place. They also learn from what they see. If the house they live in has people who enjoy reading, they will have a greater chance of loving reading. If reading is discussed and they observe the discussions, they may be more willing to discuss and question text. However, if they have a reading disability, this might discourage them, especially if they really struggle. With a daughter who does struggle, reading for enjoyment has become important for us. High interest books and books she enjoys are as important as reading things for school. School will last for 8 more years, reading the rest of her life. She loves reading to whomever will listen so we spend time listening, encouraging and complimenting. I believe it begins at home but is also part of the disposition of the child.

  2. I think we get to caught up with trying to get kids to a specific level of attainment at a specific time in their lives. This does prevent us from seeing the big picture of life long reading. I believe we need to set standards and we need to be transparent with our goals for kids with kids and parents but that doesn’t mean that we can’t see when specific standards don’t fit the circumstances. We need to allow for areas of gray. Standardized testing doesn’t allow for gray. Makes the song ‘Little boxes’ go through my head. Students come to us as unique individuals with unique capabilities. It would be a shame if they left us any other way.

  3. Debbie Pushor

    I think you are both so right; what we do at home with books and reading is often so very different than what happens with books and reading at school. That says to me that both environment and purpose have a lot to do with whether we create reading enjoyment and pleasure or not.

    I believe my three sons love books because my husband and I love books. Reading is a passion we have naturally, enthusiastically transmitted to our children because it has been a part of how we live our lives – not contrived, not scheduled, not planned – just what we do.

    We don’t read to teach strategies, to test comprehension, to push to higher reading levels, to prepare for tests, to meet outcomes. We read to share intimate times together, we read for pleasure, we read for information, we read because we love the language and the ideas, we read because it enriches our lives and our relationships.

    I think there needs to be more of this in schools. I think the starting place in schools should be more like it is in homes – reading for pleasure, for enjoyment, because there are things we want to know, because we love the sound of the language. I think we should move in schools to the strategy instruction, the language and story deconstruction, and all those skills only in context – when reading is already established as having a joyous purpose of its own.

    Nancie Atwell has some very interesting statistics about the amount of time students are asked to read and write in schools. It’s appalling! While we say we value reading and writing, we spend amounts of time (less than 10%) doing so. The rest of the time, it’s skills sheets and isolated exercises, it’s teachers talking and kids listening, and so on. How can we expect students in school to learn to read and write if we don’t ask them to read and write? How can we expect students to love to read and write if we make reading and writing about skills and drills?

    How can we learn from the reading environments outside of school and the purposes for reading in those times and places in shaping the purposes and environment of reading in school? How can this be the context for the rest of what we do in teaching reading and literature?

  4. Adam Miller

    I love reading it is really fun. It is important to read because it expands education, broadens creativity and imagination, informs of crucial worldly info, and is just flat out fun.

    Why else do YOU think reading is important.

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