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2013-07-19 Steve Gardiner My Kindle Just Died

For 35 years I have participated in daily sustained, silent reading with students in my classroom. I have seen many trends come and go regarding the topics and formats of the materials they read. I have also heard all the excuses why they can't read.

“I left my book on my nightstand.”


“My book is in my friend's locker.”


“I stayed with my mom and my book is at my dad's house.”


“I lost my library card.”


All of those are well-worn lines. Recently, a new one has entered the classroom.


“My Kindle just died.”


The Kindle doesn't need a library card. It isn't on the nightstand, in the friend's locker, or at dad's house. It's here, with us in the classroom. It just won't turn on. Dead battery.


Like other trends, it's a dilemma for an English teacher. I remember the days when I agonized over whether students should be allowed to read graphic novels for class credit. I read a couple and though I couldn't get interested in them myself, I realized that if I did not allow them in my classroom, I would likely stop any interest in reading for students who did make a connection with them. They stayed.


When Kindles came out, I bought an early one for my classroom. I loaded a few of the free books, classics from Gutenberg.com and other public domain sources and let the students use the electronic reader whenever they wanted. Most didn't want it. They would take a look, push a few buttons and go back to their paperback. Then several students received Kindles or their cousins for Christmas or birthday presents. Those students felt more ownership and read them often (probably with more relevant content, as well).


Now there are Kindles, Nooks, eReaders, and others in class every day. No one says a word about it. Some prefer the soft click of electronic pages and others prefer the feel and smell of paper pages. A few have even loaded books on their phones and asked to read them in that format, a trick my aging eyes won't bother trying.


Today, coming prepared to class means not only packing an SSR book, but charging it first.

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