Reading Is Lifework

February 14, 2015 Updated February 13, 2015

JoEllen McCarthy (@JoEllenMcCarthy) recently joined #PTchat to discuss “Building Your To Be Read (TBR) List.” Many books, and tips to encourage #BookLove, were shared by her and the #PTchat community. That discussion inspired this post by JoEllen and me.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Sagan

As we continue to watch the snow fall in the Northeast, we can’t help but be surrounded by this incredible gift of nature. “When you’re inside, safe in the warmth of your home watching snow fall on your driveway outside, all snowflakes look the same. But, when you look at a snowflake up close, particularly when you do so under a microscope, you quickly discover that all snowflakes are in fact unique.” ~ Scott Ambler  

As parents and educators we know that like snowflakes, no two children are alike and it is simply not possible to have the same book be perfect for every reader in our classrooms, or in our lives.  But books need to be in our lives.  Reading is lifework.  Part of that work is about making choices. We choose to honor voices and choices. We choose to celebrate reading and reading lives.  

Choice empowers.  Carol Dweck talks about the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset, Peter Johnston speaks of the power of Choice Words. When we change words, we change mindsets. A powerful invitation: “You don't have to read--you get to read.”  Reading is lifework.

When we celebrate reading choices and help to match the right book to the right reader at the right time…something incredible happens.

Steven Layne, author of Igniting a Passion for reading says the four most important words our readers/children will ever hear are,

"I thought of you.”

Books, like teachers and parents - touch the lives of readers. It is about “growing” those relationships- connecting books with readers that leads to the incredible process of making lifelong readers.   

As educators, you have choices too. There are many incredible resources to help facilitate this conversation. That is what JoEllen calls spreading the #PDLove. One may choose Naked Reading, Making the Match, Reading Ladders by Teri Lesene, Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer-Awakening the Reader in Every Child, and Reading in the Wild, Book Love by Penny Kittle and Steven Layne’s Igniting a Passion for Reading.  So many titles to choose from.  A message that is shared? Reading is lifework. Honor the voices and choices of all readers. Provide the time and the opportunities for independent reading.  Reading is lifework. Provide the time to support and engage readers.  Choice words matter too.  There are all kinds of readers.   Donalyn Miller speaks of the dormant reader, Layne the disengaged, Lesesne asks us to focus on reenergizing readers. We need to reach them all.

Dweck—talks about the power of YET.  How can we support this mindset and help all readers become lifelong “growing readers” with plans, identities and the motivation to read?  Penny Kittle wrote, “Students who I believe are determined nonreaders become committed, passionate readers given the right books, time to read, and regular responses to their thinking. The pathway to difficult reading begins with books they enjoy. Once they're reading, together we can reach for the challenging literature I want them to know. Rich and rewarding reading lives are within reach for all of our students.”

Irene Fountas echoed an important message. “Look at all students’ lives, not levels.  Levels are a teacher's tool, not a child's label. It is about lives and love. Teachers and parents need to be partners in helping children make good choices. We need to celebrate their reading lives, promote a love of reading and readers’ choices. Enjoy the journey. May your TBRs- be never ending.

You can find a complete list of the resources and books compiled during the chat here:

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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