Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reading Freedom

I'm reading The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner, and the incredible experience has made me think about what I must do for my students.

I am falling in love with this book and I want to talk about my confusion, ask questions, quote favorite parts and talk to the author. There's no worksheet with pre-made questions. They wouldn't interest me anyway because they aren't my questions. I don't have a study guide and I certainly didn't study any vocabulary words before reading. I'm not creating a plot pyramid or creating a character web. I certainly hope there won't be any essay questions at the end.

I might just read this book straight through tonight because I have nothing else I'd rather do at the moment.

Wouldn't it be sad if I had to stop at chapter 12? What if this book was a genre that I'd already read too many books from? Or, heaven forbid, it wasn't in my reading level and I was discouraged from checking it out?

I want to create these types of reading experiences for my students as often as possible.

In order to inspire and engage my 150 middle schoolers, they need to have reading freedom. Freedom to choose books that interest them. Freedom to read without answering prescribed questions or defining/writing sentences for vocabulary words some company thought they needed to know. Freedom to read as much of a book as they want, or even to finish a book in one setting.

Freedom to ask their own questions. Freedom to reread or stop and talk about their book with someone else. Freedom to ask/tweet the author (if possible) to gain insight or express their emotional reactions. Freedom to write/blog about their experience for a broad audience (and not just the students in their class).

Reading freedom.

I've had it all summer. I've chosen every one of the 50+ books I've read since school let out. I've read more on some days, and less on busier ones. I sometimes read a few at once. I've tweeted authors, and often heard back from them. (A thrill every single time) I've talked with my Twitter PLN, both online and in person, about these books. I've bought copies of many of these books for my new classroom so I can book talk them to my students (and have great discussions). I've chosen whatever I felt like reading at the time: many recommended by respected fellow book nerds.

I've had plenty of reading freedom. If I want students to love reading like I do, I need to free their reading experiences, too.


  1. Couldn't have said it better & utterly agree! Thanks for the well-worded reinforcement! It is so exciting every time the author tweets you back. You have to love Twitter for making that community, so much tighter for us. I wonder how we can put that into our classroom too!