So far this month, for pleasure, I have read a novel (Await Your Reply), a book about cognitive psychology (Thinking, Fast and Slow), and a book of short stories (The Return of Sherlock Holmes). In addition, I have read several articles for work mostly about, not surprisingly, teaching and assessing reading. I like to read for pleasure before going to sleep because it relaxes me. In general, I love to read!
My puzzle is: how can teachers inspire their students to love reading? For learning a second language, the research is clear: reading is key. However, here in El Salvador many students say that they do not like to read. They say that they do not grow up with a “culture of reading.” When I was a kid, I remember my mother reading aloud to me from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Talk about entertainment! Those Choose Your Own Adventure stories were captivating because as the reader (or listener in my case), you had to make choices in the story. For example, at the end of one chapter, the characters would be faced with a decision, like first going into the basement of the old house, or going up to the attic. Depending on what you chose, that was the page you would turn to.
In my opinion, one of the keys to inspiring students to love reading in real life follows the same principle: people need to have the freedom to choose something to read that is interesting and inspiring to them. The students majoring in English at my university here have to take an American Lit class and now they are reading Longfellow. No offense to Longfellow, but for English Language Learners in El Salvador, this is not very inspiring, to say the least. So what would inspire someone to read? Was there a book, or a teacher, that changed your attitude towards reading from something that you had to do for school, to something you chose to do for pleasure? What books have you loved?
A few random links about/for reading:
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