Today I visited a high school in San Francisco to see whether ninth graders there would be interested in reading on Kindles.
It was an easy sell.
It’s funny, actually, how easy it was. There was absolutely no skill required. I went in, showed them my Kindle, talked to them for about 30 seconds, and took questions. That’s it.
Their enthusiasm was palpable.
Today, I went in at the end of SSR. Students were reading their physical books. The class was silent, and the students were really reading (rather than fake reading), thanks to their excellent teacher and plenty of high-interest books.
The students were amazed that I’d collected 132 Kindles. They were amazed that adults across the country had donated them. They were amazed that their favorite books — the ones they were currently reading — are in the Kindle library.
Perks of Being a Wallflower? Check. Monster? Yep. Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Got the whole series. Perfect Chemistry? Yep, that series, too. Malcolm X? Sure enough.
And the students asked great questions, too. “Can we take the Kindle home?” Of course. “Are the Kindles sensitive?” Yes, treat it like your phone. “What if there’s a book we want to read that’s not on the Kindle?” I’ll buy it for you.
My favorite part is when unabashed excitement emerges publicly from a student who everyone knows isn’t supposed to be so maniacally interested in reading. Today, that student was a boy, and he was Latino, and before I began talking, he was small and squirrelly. As I made my pitch, he was still and leaned in. Later in the class, after I’d left, and when it was time to sign up, he was on the top of the list.
Something special is happening. The Kindle Classroom Project is getting students engaged in reading again. It’s fixing something that was broken. It’s offering access. It’s telling students, “Reading is for you, too.”