Why Students are Not Reading and Ways to Get them to Read More
"We shouldn't teach great books. We should teach a love of reading." B. F. Skinner
"What is a reader?" and "What makes a good reader?" Out of 100 eighth graders surveyed at a middle school in Pennsylvania, 73% of them said that you have to read a lot and practice reading. When the same one hundred eighth graders were asked how they feel about reading, 55% said they love it, 26% were indifferent to it, and 19% said that they disliked it.
As a teacher researcher, I decided to take a look at some reasons why my students were not reading and ways to get them to read more. I have split my readers into three groups; fluent readers, indifferent readers and reluctant readers. First, are the fluent readers, these are the students who enjoy reading and have no comprehension problems. Second is what I call indifferent readers. They, by their own choice, choose not to take part in reading in their spare time. They have no opinion on reading and have little‑or no comprehension problems. Third are the reluctant readers. The reluctant reader chooses not to read for different reasons than the indifferent reader. Often their reason is that they have difficulties in reading and don't know how to read. In other words, they struggle with comprehension. In fact, 80% of learning disabled children have problems with reading, therefore, part of the reluctancy may be due to the learning disability. (Tucker, 1)
When I first began doing my research, I thought maybe my indifferent readers were unsure of where to obtain books to read. However, I found that my students knew a range of places to get reading material from. Many suggested the library, teachers, friends, bookstores, etc. One problem that I did come across was students not being able to find books that they enjoyed reading. They often said that they could not find "good" books. When I asked one student what a "good" book was she responded, "Good books are really hard to find. That's why I don't read. The books that we read in school are always boring and we are forced to read them. I really only read them because I have to, but I don't like them."
With this attitude toward reading it will be more difficult to get the indifferent readers to become lovers of reading. Taking the example of the "boring books" that teachers often teach, we do often get comfortable with teaching books that we know well or books that are our favorites. We must look beyond this as a criteria for our teaching and understand that our children may not have developed the same love for literature yet and most likely are on a different reading level than us, so we can't expect them to love or understand Shakespeare right off the bat. Chris Crowe summed this topic up by saying, "...unless we nourish our students with the milk of reading, they will choke on the meat of literature." (138)
By introducing your students to Young Adult Literature (YAL) while they...