I absolutely love beginning a new school year! I really believe this is because I can’t wait to share with my new students my own story of learning to love reading. Not all, but the majority of my students either say they don’t read or they don’t like reading. I enjoy the look of disbelief on their faces when I tell them, “it’s okay, I hated reading in middle school.” So they aren’t confused too long, I quickly explain to them about how I didn’t even independently read a chapter book until I was in 8th grade. I faked it, skim read, skipped around, and down right just didn’t even crack open some of the books I checked out or was assigned to read. I had no stamina to finish books and it made me feel like a failure. When I got D’s and F’s in my classes I felt frustrated and overwhelmed. Worst of all, I felt like an outsider when all my friends and classmates talked about the awesome books they read. I would check them out or ask to borrow them, but I just couldn’t make myself finish.
Going through that was no fun, but today I can truly sympathize with my students. Their struggles are sadly, often greater than mine, however through my example of not giving up I hope to inspire them that once they have that break through they will open a world of possible. In the 8th grade I stumbled on the book Prom Dress by Lael Littke. In just two short days I finished that book and I can’t even begin to express the relief and excitement I felt to finally have done what my classmates had been able to do for years. The book was a mystery/thriller and after I realized what I enjoyed reading I was hooked! I became an avid reader and amazingly enough I even started finishing books of all genres. Helping my students find what they can enjoy brings back that giddy feeling I got in the 8th grade. More than anything I want my students to believe that reading will get easier and it is worth the struggle.