Monday, March 12, 2018

Where Have All the Readers Gone? #sol18

Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we share a slice of life every single day in the month of March.

Last week our high school newspaper shared this survey.

This is alarming.

This is scary.

This is so, so wrong.

As someone who is a literacy advocate and who promotes independent reading, I am confounded. I don't see how this (no matter how unscientific and unreliable the results may be) can be acceptable to any English teacher.

This survey led me to reflect on my own beliefs about independent reading and how those beliefs affect my students. It also makes me wonder where have all the readers gone?

I believe...

  • if we talk about books, students will read
  • if we have well-stocked classroom libraries, students will read
  • if we place independent reading at the center of our classrooms, students will read
  • if we give students choice, students will read
  • if we limit whole class novels, students will read
  • if we make reading a social activity, students will read
  • if we, as teachers, read what our students read, students will read

Usually, what we expect, is what we get. 


  1. I wish that survey were some outlier, but I suspect not. Alarming, yes. And a call for all of us to be more thoughtful in how we get books into the hands of our students, and keep them reading with interest.

  2. YES YES YES! Great brainstorm of next steps given the grim results of that survey! It's all about changing the habits. Putting reading as a central focus will help! Keep up those book talks!

  3. That is very disturbing and sad. I'm wondering if the high school teachers also believe what you believe. If they are not promoting reading vigorously students will lose any passion for books that they had from previous years.

  4. The survey is such a sad commentary on what happens to readers in middle school. I hold all your beliefs close and still readers slip between the cracks. As I sit in a computer lab while my students are taking a "practice" test. Ugh! We test out the love of reading!

  5. For those of us who are reading workshop teachers, we KNOW that what you advocate works. We have seen it again and again in our classrooms. It is not rocket science, it doesn't require an expensive program, it's not magic. It frustrates me to no end that we wring our hands about test scores and literacy development but refuse to do the things that actually promote literacy in our schools. Argh!

  6. Such a strong case for choice reading about topics of student choice! Check out thoughts of a student who has rediscovered her love for reading. **It only took two-thirds of a year**

  7. I stand at the beginning of the high school journey with my oldest, this makes me squint my eyes. A Lot. He reads so much right now! I don't want that to go away! I'll be thinking about how to hold onto it. Thanks for the awareness.

  8. I don't doubt this at all, and it makes me sad. I bet it would be similar or even worse for college age and adults. We worked on our transition from grade 4 (workshop and so much choice within classroom libraries) to grade 5 (whole class novels and no classroom libraries) - kids who were reading four books a week were suddenly reading one book over a few weeks? So backwards!

  9. I teach high school and emphasize choice reading, sacrificing a lot of time for it. I believe it completely. It’s sad and horrifying and true.