Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review: Igniting a Passion for Reading

I recently read Steven Layne's book, Igniting a Passion for Reading:  Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers.  It has been my quest this year to promote books and reading to the students and staff to see if I can make a direct impact on their reading lives.  So, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Layne's book.  Layne's practical classroom experience, his unequivocal love of books, and his dry sense of humor shine through in this enjoyable and inspiring read.

Layne begins the book by outlining research and reporting that..."as a nation, we have more readers who can read and don't than we do readers who can't read at all" (p. 8).  He strongly suggests that we need to start paying attention to the affective elements of reading instruction in order to boost the number of Americans who read on a regular basis.  He cites that in 2002, only about 52% of Americans ages 18-24 reported reading books for pleasure.  I'm sure those numbers are still pretty accurate in 2012, and the percentage of disengaged readers may actually be a bit higher by now.

In this day and age, it is easy for educators to get wrapped up in the skill part of reading--am I teaching my students how to read?  It's true that this is a critical component.  We must teach the skills that good readers need to navigate all types of text.  However, we do our students a disservice if we neglect to focus on what Layne believes to be our true reading objective:  fostering a lifetime love of reading in our students (p13).  So what can we, as educators do to help ignite such a passion for reading that our students will read because they want to?

Some of the strategies Layne suggests for educators:
  • Target alliterate readers and find books that interest them.  Layne maintains that you must know your students and put books into their hands that are likely to strike a chord with them.  He includes several interest inventories in the book to assist educators in identifying what students are interested in.
  • Promote books through book chats.  As educators, it is our duty to be well-read and informed about books that may interest our students.  We must find time to do the "research" by reading many grade level appropriate books and also make time to advertise them to our students to help build interest and excitement.  Layne includes a book chat prep sheet that will assist teachers in preparing to advertise a book. 
  • Read aloud to students on a regular basis.  One of my favorite quotes in the book comes on page 54--"Reading aloud--a good book read well--is the number-one way to positively impact the disengaged reader."  Choosing high quality read alouds from a wide variety of genres exposes students to a multitude of books in a powerful and exciting way. It allows students to make affective connections with books.
  • Celebrate books and reading.  This can be done through book discussions, author visits, book advertisements, and in some cases schools have even created reading cafes or lounges that provide students with a comfortable place designated specifically for reading. 
My biggest take-away from Layne's book is that we, as educators, must go the extra mile to ignite the passion for reading within our students.  If we don't take that extra step, who will?

For more information about this book and the author, please visit this website.