Jennifer Sniadecki is currently a school librarian and former middle school teacher/literacy coach in South Bend, Indiana. She is an avid reader, and will read anything the Nerdy Book Club or her friends at Two Writing Teachers recommend. Jennifer can be found on Twitter and contributes to #g2great chats for fun. She cannot wait for the next NCTE reunion! Check our her tweets @jdsniadecki or posts on her blog, http://www.readingteacherwrites.com Jennifer is currently working on a professional development proposal about using picture books in the middle school classroom, her most passionate work to date.
“Passion is powerful.” – Lucy Calkins
I heard Lucy Calkins speak many years ago about the passion that drives the teaching of reading. As a reader, teacher, and new librarian, this quote is my daily mantra. If I can show students that reading is worth it, then they can also become readers. I am passionate about reading! When people enter my library, they find neatly organized books and colorful displays showing author quotes, featured books, and tables celebrating special events, such as the recent Banned Books Week. I loved our “Welcome Wishtree” day, where students heard me talk about Wishtree, the new, fabulous story by Katherine Applegate. They filled out “wish leaves” of their own to display on a tree (window decoration) in the library. Each student who wrote a wish received a raffle ticket for a chance to win the book. Three students asked me, “We get the book to keep? Forever?” (Yes!) One student put his raffle ticket in my hand and said, “Now just keep this one aside, and then pick it later. I really need to win.” That’s the passion for reading I hope continues past the school-age years.
“I’m not there…yet!” – Carol Dweck
The power of YET – Ah! That one word changes everything for a new or practicing reader. I had a kindergarten student tell me recently that she didn’t know how to read. I said, “You DO!” She replied, “No?” (She looked at me like I was crazy.) I told her that she had just listened to a great story (read aloud by another librarian) and that she participated in knowing about the story. Even if she didn’t read the words YET, she will be able to soon! I’m not sure if she agreed with me, but my passion and encouragement were clear. She smiled and went to the shelves – to find a book “to read” on her own. Another boy “read” about a dog that kept growing – “He got too big for the couch! Look!” the student showed me how he read with the pictures to follow the story, and he was excited about it.
I have a 7th grader who loves it when I read to him (or his class). He asks me every time I see him, “Will you read to me today?” (Yes!) He told me that I read with the voices (I love that!) and that he likes to hear others read because he’s “not very good at it.” Yet! A 4th grader comes to the library at least every other day to switch books. I always ask her if books are “5-Star” and she usually tells me that they are. I inquired, “You’re a reader, aren’t you?” She said, “Uh-yeah!” (Obviously!)
“Reading is a pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school.” – Beverly Cleary
These students provided me with just a few examples of the passion I want to promote and how powerful – oh, so powerful – a love of reading can be. Teachers should spend more time talking to children about the joy of reading, and read good books to them (and with them). Just as passion is powerful, even though students may not be there yet, loving reading is one of the most important lessons we can teach our students. Spreading the love of reading is something that each and every person can learn to do well, and that achievement lasts a lifetime.