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The struggle for Sustained Silent Reading

 One of the best things about my school is that we have a period of Sustained Silent Reading three times a week in our Advisory class.

Unfortunately, we don’t do SSR very well. Here are some of the problems:

  • We don’t spend enough time reading. Twenty minutes, three times a week. That’s only an hour of reading if the students are reading.
  • We don’t have enough good books. Our school library barely exists, despite the hard work of a teacher volunteer, and even though we have books, very few are high-interest and at the students’ reading level.
  • Most of us aren’t experienced in matching students with books. We might not read enough for our own pleasure. If that’s the case, we certainly don’t have a good understanding of young adult literature.
  • We cave. When our students complain about SSR, we don’t stand firm. Instead, we let them do homework or read a book assigned for their English class.

Those are some problems, but I think the main problem is this: We say we care about reading but we really don’t put in the investment to show we do.

If we did, we’d see students reading in the hallways at lunch. We’d see more newspapers and magazines on campus. There would be discussions about the presidential race or the Penn State scandal or the Occupy movement. More students would be doing Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week. More teachers would be participating in book clubs.

If we truly cared about reading, students would be reading, and there would be so much more to talk about, so many more opportunities to connect students to bigger things out there in the world. 

Please share your brilliant insights!