I bumped into the mother of one of my students today in the school’s parking lot. She’s great. After catching up a little and talking about the nice weather, she grabbed my wrist and asked, “What have you done with my child?”
I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. “What do you mean?”
“He used to hate reading. But ever since you gave him that Kindle, all he does is read — like, even on the weekends.”
I’d detected a shift, too; after all, in my colleague’s classics unit, he’s finished two books already — Slaughterhouse-Five and The Catcher in the Rye — when most of the class is still reading their first.
And I’d also observed that he was getting ahead in Blink, the current teacher-assigned book in his Psychology class.
But by no means did I know that my student was also asking his mother to stop by libraries and bookstores to get additional books.
I was incredulous. “What?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it’s crazy,” she said. “I’ll be driving around town, and he texts me to ask if I can pick him up a book.”
Apparently, my student– who did not enjoy reading for a long time and is three months from graduation — has become an underground avid reader.
I’m hearing stories like this almost every day. My students and I are talking about Brave New World and 1984 and Emma and Dante’s Inferno. One stopped me in the office today to say he’s reading The Odyssey after finishing up the Hunger Games trilogy. A little portion of the school is engaged in reading.
I think that two things are contributing to this success:
1. My colleague is allowing students to choose their own books,
2. The Kindle is making reading cool(er).
These two things, I think, are leading my students to see reading as a calming, focusing activity in which they can consider their futures after graduation.
And this story confirms to me how all young people do, in fact, like to read. They just might not know it yet.