Teaching Students to Love Books ... Again

It can be really hard to talk to students about literature. It’s not that students lack creativity or suffer from decreased intelligence. So many students who proclaim that they hate to read once loved how the words on the page created vivid images. Even those who snarl at the shorter books can remember a book they didn’t hate.

Somewhere along the way, far too many students learned that books just weren’t worth the effort. You likely can’t reverse that lesson by shoving a book in the student’s hands, proclaiming that the book is a worthy classic, and waiting for the student to just read it. That probably won’t work.

And popcorn reading can be a student’s worst nightmare. Not only do students dread reading at on their own, but now they can’t pay attention to the reading in class because they’re so busy trying to anticipate when they’ll have to read. They silently try to sound out words and unfamiliar names, just to avoid sounding like a weak reader in front of their peers.

It’s a struggle, but not an unwinnable battle. Like most people, students will avoid situations that result in negativity and failure. So, give them the opposite. Read to them, even if they are high school students, so they can hear how the words should sound and the pace at which you read. Stop at the end of the paragraph and explain what you read. Give them a chance to share what they thought of the reading, even if their thoughts are a little off-base.

Paragraphs of positivity can build into pages of confidence. It can take time, but some students can regain the willingness to read books, even classics. But even if they avoid classics like the plague, all that really matters is that they read and enjoy it.