You know the kid: the one who grows his bangs a little longer to hide the eyes beneath his glasses. This way, you’ll never know exactly where he’s looking…..up at you or his peers….or inside his desk, where the work that matters most to him awaits. We’ve all had students who are so immersed in a book that they struggle to put it away during class. Tell me your heart hasn’t broken a little when you’ve found yourself confronted with the task of asking a kid to stop reading for even a moment so that other things might be attended to. Maybe we’ve all had that kid in our classroom at one point or another.
Maybe you’ve worked with the other type of kid too–the one who doesn’t know himself as a reader yet. The one who CAN read but chooses not to. The one who claims to hate books. The one who has been told what he can read and when he can read it. The one who is enthralled with forensic science, but who could care less about wizards, vampires, old dogs, and that bridge to Terabithia that his teachers get so worked up over.
I’ve found that providing choice matters as much as providing access and time for reading. When I was teaching, there was nothing more rewarding to me than watching self-proclaimed reading-haters lose themselves in a text. Getting them there always took time. Kids who have been told what to read their entire school career need a bit of reassurance. They need help defining their reading territories. They need a community to connect to.
They also need support in order to maintain momentum. This is where read-alike sites and tools come in handy. I wish that some of these had been available when I was still in the classroom. Check them out, and then share them with the readers you know……
- What Should I Read Next invites users to enter the name of a book they have enjoyed. Further recommendations are made from the ever-growing database that is generated by readers.
- Whichbook helps readers identify a perfect text by considering dimensions of character, plot, setting, and mood.
- The Pembroke Public Library in Ontario prompts users to begin searching by entering the name of an author they enjoy.
- La Crosse Public Library offers a similar tool, but provides information that allows readers to keep up with book series as well.
- This wiki is interesting, and The New Yorker AdvanceWord provides a customized email subscription that connects readers to new titles they may enjoy.