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A Love of Reading

April 25, 2012

How do you create a love for reading?

One book at a time.

I have shared before that I literally cannot remember when I could not read. I hope many of you have delightful memories of early reading. As educators how do we help our students develop and nurture a love for reading? The obvious answer is to provide many opportunities to read for pleasure. That may mean simply providing access to books.

Monday night was World Book Night. (World Book Night: Facebook)

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks. Additionally, April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death.

So….back in January, my colleague and co-author, Dr. Linda Neiman, and I applied to World Book Night for the free books  as a way to share our love of reading with others. Arrangements were made with one of our former students who is now a teacher at Veritas High School, an urban high school in Milwaukee, to visit his school on April 23 with free books for his students. We were not selected. There were 500,000 books to give away,  but we were not chosen. Alas, you cannot stop us when we have made a commitment. We decided to donate the books ourselves and move forward with our plans.

It is truly better to give than receive, and we received so much! The joy was truly ours! We arrived near the end of the day and were invited to sit in on the last 15 minutes of an eleventh grade English class. Mr. Paltzer was beginning a study of Death of a Salesman by connecting to the students’ personal lives and background knowledge. We were able to contain ourselves and not raise our hands to join the discussion, but we were impressed with the positive interactions and the feeling of community that we experienced in this classroom. Yes, we were very proud.

After school, students were invited to drop in and choose a book of their choice from a variety of genre. These high school students were well-mannered, well-behaved, very friendly, eager to engage in impromptu book talks, and ask questions about books that were new to them. The principal, Ms. Sherry Lehman-Tolkan, joined the discussions as well, encouraging her students to try new books. We only asked that students pay it forward by passing the books on to another reader when they finish.

We would like to say, “Thank you!” to the students of Veritas High, Mr. Paltzer, and Ms. Lehman-Tolkan for letting us share our love of reading.

What can you do to encourage the love of reading in your classroom? If you have any books you don’t need anymore, pass them on.




Tony Hawk encourages students to  Read Every Day (Scholastic)

Below are some ideas and resources to help you encourage reading.

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