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Date Author Title
2011-03-07 Steve Gardiner Student Choice Increases Reading Interest

For an experienced adult reader, choosing a new book is easy, a joy, one of life's treats. But for many students, it is difficult, probably because they have few opportunities to practice.

Our schools design curriculums which choose books for students. That's not all bad. Students need common reading, so they can share discussions, ideas, and literary experiences. They also need to make choices.

Giving students choices lets them take control of part of their education. It lets them think about authors, modes and genres of writing, and subjects and examine their own interests. They learn how to find books in libraries and bookstores. They learn how to evaluate a book to decide if they want to read it or not. They learn what to do if the book they chose is not working for them.

Most good adult readers can remember a book or series of books that gave them the “aha” moment, the realization that they were already or could become a good reader. That realization was rewarding, exciting, and for many, addicting.

The book that created that moment is often called the “Home Run Book.” While school curriculums can designate good books for students to read, books that will provide good discussion and common background for students. However, few experienced adult readers, thinking back on their own school reading experiences, would cite The Scarlet Letter as their “Home Run Book,” the book that changed them into a motivated reader.

Having choices for reading books, not just one per semester, but a continuous opportunity to chose, read, evaluate, enjoy, and chose again is an essential part of the educational experience for today's students.

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