THE UNINSPIRED READER
Every teacher struggles to accommodate learners at various levels of readiness. As you teach a lesson to your entire class, you try to adapt the learning experience so that all can grasp it and be properly challenged at the same time. All educators are well aware that in every class there are children whose learning appetites are insatiable (classic readers) and children who are completely overwhelmed by the instruction (challenged readers). Properly teaching these two types of students at the same time is extremely difficult and they are the ones that typically get the most attention (i.e., teacher focus, basic skills assistance, enrichment programs, etc.)
However, there is one learning type that gets little to no attention and typically exists just under the radar. The type of learner I'm talking about is the uninspired reader. Children who are uninspired can read well enough, but think of it as a chore. If given a choice, this type would never choose to read without it being a requirement. They usually do the bare minimum on homework assignments, yet they understand the concepts. Test grades range from A through C, although they frequently do not study or prepare.
I chose the term "uninspired" to describe these children because they have lost their enthusiasm for learning. This is such a preventable issue, but in our push to teach skills and concepts for better test results, we often forget to celebrate the joy of reading and learning. As teachers and parents, it's our job to show them just how engrossing great books can be! There certainly is no shortage of stories that will catch their attention, take hold of them, and not let go until they read that last page.
The best way parents can start winning over their uninspired readers is by reading aloud to them. We typically read aloud to young children, but our older learners still need this experience as well. Share your enthusiasm, sense of wonder, and excitement as you move together through the pages. It doesn't matter if you use chapter books or picture story books. This positive energy is contagious and your child's interest will be piqued.
Selecting the most effective literature can be a challenge for parents who are overwhelmed by all of the book choices. Teachers know which books are the most compelling, so they can be an invaluable resource for parents. All of the educators that I know would be thrilled to share a list of awesome reads with inquisitive parents!
To further assist families who are looking for that next great read-aloud for their children, try some of the resources below.
1. Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook – This gem of a resource, first written by Jim Trelease in 1982, is currently in its seventh edition. It's a compilation of some of the best children's literature for families to read aloud to and with their families.
2. Librarians – Your local librarian will have information about the most popular stories and can easily guide you to the books best suited for your child. Many libraries will have summer reading lists or "top ten" book recommendation handouts.
3. Friends – Encourage your child ask his or her friends for their favorite book recommendations. They can regularly swap their books and talk about what they read.
4. Internet Search - Conduct an online search of the following phrases: "best children's books of all times," "greatest children's books," or "top books every kid should have on their bookshelf." You will immediately have a focus on the best titles.
5. Amazon.com - Search "kids books" on the Amazon website. There, you can create a search for outstanding books based on age, rating, topic, book type, and more!
By regularly focusing on the joy of reading, our uninspired readers will begin to adopt this perspective and have a better chance of becoming lifelong readers.
"If a seed of lettuce will not grow, we do not blame the lettuce. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly." -Buddhist proverb