3 Essential Steps to Create a Community of Readers
I used to work at a local fitness center as a desk attendant. Each time I’d work I was surrounded by healthy people: gym patrons, personal trainers, workout instructors.
Because I was constantly surrounded by super buff people, I also bought into the healthy community. I worked out at the gym when I wasn’t working, and I started eating healthier, too. I went to classes offered at the gym, and I talked to patrons about their workouts.
I was immersed in the healthy lifestyle by trainers talking about healthy diets and patrons conversing about their workout routines. This same immersion should be happening in schools.
This semester while student teaching my goal has been to create a community of readers. The school has the AR reading program so students have to read daily. But when I got to the school, I found that no one was talking about books. I wondered if they were even reading because the book no-talk was eerie and disappointing. It was as if they read in their 30 minute reading block and when they shut their books they forgot about them. Lips closed – move on.
1. Start the Conversation
To combat this issue, I started talking to students about the books they read. I saw a student carrying Beautiful Creatures, a book I just started reading the night before. I opened a dialogue with a simple question, “How do you like that book?” When I told him I was also reading it, I opened a continuous dialogue that still occurs weeks later (the book is one in a series so there’ a lot to talk about).
2. Connect w/ Other Readers
However, just casually talking about books wasn’t enough to create a community of readers. Students needed to start talking to EACH OTHER about books. This is the primary reason why I started book clubs. The book clubs serve as a concrete community; one where we meet regularly to talk about books with each other. Since starting the book clubs, student interest has grown and the community has also grown.
The final step to create a community of readers is to immerse students in books. We now have a graffiti wall and book recommendations in the hallways. I always have a stack of books on my desk so I can book push and preview.
I realize this is only the beginning to create a community of readers, but at least it’s a start.