My students used to love reading. Like, really, really love reading. And then X changed all of that. (Insert the variable of your choice: school, extracurriculars, dating, gaming, etc.) In an effort to change that (and after reading the four most powerful books on the market–Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide, Penny Kittle’s Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers, and Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild), Chris and I set out to reintroduce our students to a love of reading: “Students, books. Books, students.” It has been a year of growth, learning, exhaustion, and, at times, pure euphoria.
Like this morning. (More on that in a minute.)
It’s college recommendation time, which my students affectionately call “Ms. Hughes’ Hunger Games.” Because I have trouble saying “no” to doe-eyed students, a few years ago I agreed to write 58 recommendations. At two to three hours a piece, it was a horrible recommendation-writing season. (I’m convinced there’s a book out there, pointing recommendation-seekers toward their English teachers. But that’s another post.) Because of that awful summer (the effects of which will resurface in my children’s future therapy sessions), I now reserve fifteen spots and require applicants to reflect on a series of prompts. Beyond that, “may the odds be ever in [their] favor.”
So, this morning, before tackling yet another set of essays, I quickly glanced at a student’s reflection:
Ms. Hughes has seen my work ethic improve over the past year and knows how important it is to me. She is always helping me with my projects and papers or anything I need help with which makes me feel like I have someone I can actually rely on. Ms.Hughes is always helping me to improve my work. Recently she gave me a book recommendation for the mystery/thriller choice book project and I really enjoyed the book a lot. She helped me find my love for reading all over again which I have absolutely missed since I was a kid. I used to always love reading then was never a big fan of it and this year she has opened me up to so many book options that I began to love reading. I have noticed my work has improved greatly over the past year due to the help of reading more and this will especially help me in my future. Overall, Ms.Hughes has spread her love of reading on to me which has made me fall in love all over again with reading.
While the work my colleague Chris and I are doing is by no means finished–and while this is only one student, this was the perfect energy drink I needed to sustain me for the month-long marathon that is June.
Happy reading, and “may the odds be ever in your favor”!
*This article originally appeared at fortheloveofreading.org, Beth’s collaborative blog with colleague Chris Gosselin.