Please help me welcome today’s guest blogger, Kelly D. Vorhis, a high school English teacher at NorthWood High School in Nappanee, Indiana. She teaches tenth grade English, Advanced Composition and Creative Writing, and is an Academic Team Coach for the Spell Bowl and English teams. She has been blessed to be able to work with up and coming young writers, which fuels her passion for writing Young Adult literature and hones her editing skills. One of her passions in life is reading and literacy, and she strives to get just the right book into the hands of each of her students. A proud member of the Nerdy Book Club, Kelly loves connecting with other teachers and authors on social media. At this time, she is busy grading essays and working on a Young Adult novel set in the Old West with a touch of Steampunk added for fun. Look for her on Twitter and Facebook.
I am one of those lifelong readers who always has a book in her hand. Books are simply an extension of me and who I am, so it should be no surprise that I focus on getting books into my students’ hands on a daily basis. Every year my classroom library grows; and this year, more than ever before, I find colleagues wandering into my room to browse the shelves, because a student we have in common mentioned a book that they “must read.”
The aspect that is unique in my classroom and building is the daily talk about the book we’re reading, whether it is the spontaneous outburst from a reluctant reader who for the first time ever, stayed up way too late the night before finishing a book, which leads five other students to start asking questions and wanting to read it next, to connections made between Julius Caesar and the best-selling list book another student is reading.
Before I continue, I must give credit to Book Love and Penny Kittle. Her book has changed the way I incorporate Independent Reading in my classes. No longer are my students required to complete Reading Logs that sap their enthusiasm for reading. I’m still tweaking the way Independent Reading works in my classroom, and recent student surveys indicate that it is working.
Encouraging students to read often leads to parents becoming more involved with reading at home. Many times books leave with students and aren’t returned for weeks, simply because parents are intrigued by the fact that their child who formerly did not like reading has suddenly started reading. They want to know why and what has prompted the change. Students return with messages from parents stating they loved the book, could I provide more?
It is a challenge to spread the “Book Love” (as I call my campaign to get everyone in my building reading more). A strategy that I use daily is to make sure I carry a book, cover out, whenever I leave my classroom. I try to incorporate the title into whatever conversation I’m having at the moment, whether I’m talking to a student, chatting with one of the administrators, or hanging out in the surge (common area) between classes. I also ask colleagues what book they’re currently reading. If they aren’t reading, I often recommend one or two titles or offer to find them something I think they’d like. Colleagues have been stopping by to ask about books their students are reading, or to ask my opinion about books for their children.
Sharing your love of books and modeling that to everyone around you on a daily basis is a sure fire way to encourage colleagues, students, and parents to read and read more widely.