Free at Last!
This year our district strategically abandoned the Accelerated Reader program after over a decade of use. For many who have been using it systematically with students it has taken quit an adjustment. For me I see it as an amazing opportunity to help children become excited about reading for the pleasure, interest, and sheer joy it can bring.
Now students can select any book they wish because they want to read it, not because it is on their level. While I do see tremendous benefit from children “practicing” reading on a level that is within their independent range, and I know practice is what we all need to improve our skills with all new learning, I see choice as a great motivator. Now that child who has an interest or passion for a subject, genre, or author can attempt to read content that is above his/her instructional level and tackle it because he/she is motivated to do so. Isn’t that what is happening in so many online learning communities? People are following their passions and becoming self-motivated learners. Why should learning to read be any different?
Reading for understanding remains at the heart of the reading process. Educators are still responsible for monitoring, suggesting, guiding, and above all teaching reading. We still must guide children to books that will strengthen them as readers. We still must help children figure out how to find a “just right” book they will comprehend. We still must help children analyze, and discuss what they read. We still must help children learn how to read for a variety of purposes. Above all we must still model the amazing wonders reading provides.
But here’s to the liberation of reading by choice! Keep those pages turning no matter in a book or a device.