I love to read. So much so that it hurts my heart when I ask students whether they read much outside of school and the response is a laugh and a definitive “No,” or when I ask about the book their class is reading and I am met with a sheepish admission that they haven’t actually read any of it.
“I hate reading!”
“There’s so much stuff I’d rather be doing!”
To that I say, “You just haven’t found the right book yet!”
Reading on their own, when it isn’t required for school and there isn’t any pressure of being tested or forced to write an essay, is an entirely different experience for students. Those academic pressures can easily remove the fun from reading, so it is not surprising that many students claim they don’t like to read.
There’s nothing I can do about the books students have to read for school, except encourage them to give the books a try. (One of my favorite books ever, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, was required summer reading when I was in high school and I’m still not over the shock of that ending.) However, what I can do is offer some suggestions for books I think will help reluctant readers find reading more enjoyable and give those who already love to read something to add to their to-read lists.
Reading is reading and I firmly believe that you don’t have to be reading a tome like War and Peace to reap the benefits of reading. Anything that engages the reader will offer the opportunity to absorb new vocabulary, develop empathy, understand more about writing mechanics, such as sentence structure or plot development, and improve comprehension. The important thing is finding books that keep kids wanting to read.
I’ll be offering regular recommendations, but here are a few to get you started.
- Nightmares! by Jason Segel (For middle-grade readers)
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- Anything by John Green or Sarah Dessen
And to any students who give my suggestions a try, or have their own recommendations, I would love to talk about them with you! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think! Unless it’s War and Peace – I haven’t read that one yet.