Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Choice Reading--What Students Say

Back in April, I shared my thoughts on the power ofchoice reading. I’ve now gone through the course evaluations and reflections my English 10 students submitted on the last day of class, and I want to share what they said about choice reading. As part of their year-end reflection, students were asked to reflect on their growth over the course of the school year: “How have you grown as a reader, writer, and presenter? What are your goals for continued growth? How has your view of literature developed over the course of the school year?”  Many students wrote about the Choice Reading program. The comments below are actual student statements about reading. If you’re on the fence about starting a Choice Reading program in your classes, I hope that these student comments will inspire you!

One other thought about Choice Reading before the comments---After my initial Choice Reading post, my IB I students asked why they don’t have Choice Reading time. Some of my students follow me on Twitter and saw the post.  I felt so bad when they came to class the next day and asked this question! One of my goals for this coming school year is to work Choice Reading time into my IB classes, too. I guess I assumed that because they were taking IB English, they loved to read and were, therefore, reading on their own. Not true. So many of my IB students are overwhelmed with school work and other activities; they feel like they don’t have time to read anymore. Choice Reading in class would not only be an escape for these students, but it could also encourage them to find time to read outside of school.

And now, what students have to say about Choice Reading:

·         “If I had to choose my favorite time of the school day, I would probably choose the 15 minutes of choice reading we get. It’s a time where I get to shut out the rest of the world and focus on a different one. I haven’t had a time like this since 5th grade and I’ve missed it. This time has allowed me to read and find books I care about and actually want to read. I find that I’ve started staying up past twelve reading and I love it! I have found a new passion and reading has become a big part of my life this year. The more I read the more I want to read more, and my view on literature has grown greatly.”

·         “I am happy that we got the opportunity to have the fifteen minutes to read in the beginning of class every class. I usually get lazy to read on my own volition, but having this reading time motivates me to read.”

·         “I felt like I grew a lot as a reader throughout the year because I read a lot more than I usually do and I actually sort of enjoyed it.”

·         “At the beginning of the year I enjoyed reading but always put it to the wayside to other things, like video games. Later in the year I found myself picking up a book more and more because I now want to read the book.”

·         “Reading has always been something I had enjoyed until last year when we were beginning to be forced into reading certain books. However, when I opened my mind more to realizing that the books they chose for us were not that bad, I got back into reading. Also, this year I have found my favorite author, Sarah Dessen, and many other authors that I have fallen in love with. I think the choice reading during class has been my favorite part of the year and has in a way saved my love for reading.

·         “I’ve grown as a reader by being able to read the first 15 minutes of every class. I never used to read before and since we started with reading every class, I actually like reading a lot. I read in my free time which I never ever used to do.”

·         “I no longer hate the idea of reading. It’s kind of enjoyable now.”

·         “Before this year I hated to read. No, I mean it. I really hated reading….I wasn’t interested. It changed this year…As this year went on, I found that the books we read in class were a little more interesting. Some of them were relatable to me. Then we also had to read free-choice books. I started picking those the old way—by length. But then I stumbled on a book I really enjoyed…I found that I started to like reading somewhat. I still prefer television and movies but I learned that if a book is well written and the subject is interesting to me then I can find enjoyment in it. This is very different than how I thought of books at the beginning of the school year.”

·         “I used to love reading, but didn’t read often. Now I’ve gotten back to frequently reading not because I have to, but because I want to.”

·         “I learned to appreciate books again. The 15 minutes of quiet reading were sometimes the best fifteen minutes of the day. I would often find myself wishing it was more than 15, and I would really get into the reading.”

·         “I have always been a book worm, but this year I started reading a lot more. Normally I stick to books with romance, or books about teenagers, but I really branched out this year. For example, The Help was the first book I read this year that wasn’t about a love story. I still love Nicholas Sparks, but I really wanted to get some diversity in what I was reading. I also became a much faster reader. I am proud of how many books I read this year.”


  1. I had similar responses from my students at the end of this school year. I wasn't sure if the independent reading time I set apart would be worth it, but by the end of the year I knew I'd be implementing it again. One of my 10th grade boys told me that he'd never been interested in reading before -- now he can't wait to finish a book. I wonder how quickly your students adapted to the program? It took mine about two to three months before they hit their stride. The first few months I had a lot of complaints and missing books taking up our time. Then... it seemed like they finally found books that they liked and enough time went by that they got sucked into their books. I enjoyed the time too! I made it a priority to read while the students were reading.
    My gifted students particularly looked forward to the time that they could forget the hustle and bustle of academia and remember what it was like to be lost in a book. By the end of the year, if I had to borrow some time from IR, the room was full of groans. Success!

  2. Awesome! It sounds like you had great success with the IR program you established with your classes. I am definitely a believer in choice reading and making time for students to read in school.
    I write a bit more about how I set up the choice reading time in an earlier post. Choice Reading time is the first 15 minutes of each class meeting. I greet the students and then we start reading. Basically, the bell rings, I say "good morning/afternoon," and then I say "Choice Books should be out! Let's get started with our fifteen minutes of quiet reading"--and off we go! :) I use a timer, so the start is a good for quiet. I started this routine on the first day of school. That day, I had a short story for students to read. After we read and talked about the story, I explained how the choice reading time would work. The next class, they either had to bring a book or grab one from the shelves in my room. Since I started with the routine on day one, they adapted very quickly. And I always read with my students. I think this is so important. They know that I take it seriously because I read, too...and they see how many books I read. :)
    I do the reading the first fifteen minutes of class because it helps set the tone for the class, and it gets students out of the drama of the previous class or the passing time. Also, it keeps me from compromising the time. The only time I shortened the reading time was when one day when we had a very odd,shortened bell schedule and the class itself was only thirty minutes long. I shortened it to 10 minutes that day but didn't scrap it because I didn't want to send the idea that it wasn't important enough to stay in our schedule.
    My students have to take care of checking out (and signing in) books either before or after class. They can always grab one from the shelf and put it back. At the end of the school year, I only have two or three books that weren't returned. I know I'll probably need to work on a different procedure for checking-out/returning books, though.
    I would have students who would drag their feet when it came to getting their choice book out or picking one from the shelves. Overall, though, they took it seriously from day one.
    I look forward to working in IR time with my IB students! I do feel badly I haven't done it before. At the end of the year, we had some free-reading time, but it was not a consistent, year-long program like it was for my 10th graders. With IB, though, I'm thinking it's going to be a Monday or Friday routine. I don't see how I could do it every class with the IB curriculum and assessments.
    I'm glad that you've had such great success with your program! :)