Some schools are already gearing up for
I LOVE to READ month, which is January or February, depending on who you talk to, OR March if you celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday (March 2nd) by READING ACROSS AMERICA. And I'll be doing my part with school visits from Sacramento to Southern CA. : ) Which in turn got me thinking about the fact that what we READ is WRITING, and while some kids say they don't have time to read, and hate to write, I bet they love to TEXT….
Admittedly, when I took this photo (Yes, this is me in 4th, 5th, or 6th grade?) a text meant textbook, which meant reading at your desk and probably answering a bunch of borrrring questions about it after. Nothing like the 13 year old girl in Orange County who sent 14,528 texts in one month! (** HEY!!!–It must have been I LOVE to TEXT Month! lol!) Folks have estimated this equals 484 text messages a DAY while she's awake. Hmmmm….no time to READ, you say? Here's my theory: TEXTING IS POPULAR BECAUSE IT'S SOCIAL. When I was 12, (Yes, I actually remember…) reading was a great escape, but it was something you did in a quiet corner–or at your desk. That is UNTIL my 6th grade teacher (Thank you Mr. Markey!) decided I should go down the hall to the kindergarten once a week and read to them and BINGO, READING was suddenly SOCIAL! Sitting in a chair with all those adoring kinders at my feet (an added plus) and making books come alive for them was magical for all of us. It also got me hooked on reading. YES, I know most teachers have had to cut out all of the fun stuff to make sure NO child is left behind. (Don't get me started on this topic!) BUT….in celebration of I LOVE to READ month, let's make reading a social event.
HOW? Pair up your sixth graders (or 4th or 5th) with a class from the lower grades. Week one, have them meet and talk about their interests, maybe even go to the library to pick out a picture book together. Why Picture Book? Even if they won't admit it, the big kids still love them and some may have never been read to when they were younger. The younger kids may be advanced readers but picture books are short enough so they can be read in one Library Visit,(After all we can't miss too much "Instructional time!") even by some of your ELL kids. Plus, and I don't just mean Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox or Little Bo Peep Can't Get To Sleep, picture books these days are awesome!
Week two, have the older kids pick out the book. Week three, the younger kids pick out the book and the two take turns reading it aloud together. I've paired up my middle grades students with elementary kids. I've taken high schoolers back to Kindergarten and second grade. They not only read to their buddies but wrote their own picture books for them based on the younger student's interests. And providing opportunities for older students to feel like POSITIVE role models is PRICELESS! PS I LV 2 TXT 2 ; )