One of my favorite things to do is go to the library to peruse the racks of new fiction. I love picking up a book that has been freshly wrapped in library issued cellophane. I love the smell of the pages as I open the book, and the sound of the spine cracking for the first time. I love to look for my favorite authors. While I keep close tabs on bestseller lists, it is possible that one has slipped onto the market without my knowledge. When I find the book that grabs my interest, I am giddy. I can hardly wait to get home and become immersed in a new adventure.
I love choosing my own books. Sometimes a friend or family member recommends a book that I will read or often I read something mandatory for my profession; however, for real enjoyment and engagement, I choose my own book. Research proves that readers are more engaged and more apt to continue reading if they are allowed to choose their own books. Teachers in middle schools and high schools throughout the country have embraced this research for many years in a teaching concept called Readers Theater. For the first portion of Readers Theater students silently read books that they have chosen. One student may read Harry Potter, another War and Peace and yet another a Harlequin romance. What the students read is not nearly as important as the fact that they are reading.
In my own experience teaching students who read far below their grade level, I definitely found my students much more apt to keep reading on a daily basis in the classroom if I allowed them to choose what they read. Being invested in the process of reading, as with any process, keeps the reader wanting to read more. For example, imagine if someone chose what you were going to eat all day without giving you any choice. Now imagine if someone gave you choices and allowed you to choose what you wanted to eat. It is the same for reading, we will choose the chocolate brownies over the mushy green peas every time.
1. Visit your local library.
2. Use the computers to find books that interest you.
3. Choose your book.
Visit Martha’s favorite books to see what is on her reading list.