You can lead a child to a book, but.... 2:04 p.m. 2003-10-10

Current Listening: Redwall by Brian Jacques - just finished!
Current Reading: Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews
Recipe of the Day: More Burrito Fillings
Daily Quote:

I was just reading a blog, that had this funny little message about librarians scrolling in the little space below the webpage - whatever you call it! It can be found at, on the link that says "Worship". I also nicked their cute library lion jpeg above. Being a Leo who is encouraging (forcing? begging?) middle school students to read, I thought that it was appropriate.

At the beginning of the school year, I made a resolution to not go to the library with my students - at least for the first semester. I figured, being a casualty of poorly written book reports by unmotivated students, that I could at least avoid using the expression "bullshit" for the first half of the year. That is the first word that came to mind, if not to mouth, when reading the book reports I asked my students to do. It was apparent that many had not read their books, or, at the very least, still had not grasped the basic elements of story (such as main character, plot, etc.).

After a couple of weeks went by, some of my students began to ask if we were ever going to go to the library. I told them I was not sure. I had just as many students not express any interest at all! On a whim, I asked my students to write a paragraph telling me either: why I should take them to the library to check out books, or why they are not interested in going to the library. Here are some quotes from their responses (remember that they are in intermediate ESOL):

"I want to go to the library, because my teacher in reading connections tell me that I need a Accelerated Reader Book for my class. I like to read Mistery and Fiction books."

"Please take us to the library because I like to read Encyclopedia."

"I like go to the library because are interesting. I like to read the stories and also..." (unfinished)

"I don't want to go to the (library) because I'm trying to learn how to read in english with easy books and I am learn to(o) much new words."

"I want to go to the library to know it better. I don't really like to read alot. When I read I like to read about cars."

"I don't want to go library because is (boring). I like to read but not much but I will learn."

"I like to go to the library because I like to read to help me speak English, to be better reading a book, and read loud so other person's can hear me speak. I like to read Harry Potter books, about scary books, and about interesting books. So that's why I like to go the library so I can be better in reading."

"I do not think that we should go to the library because your class do not like to read. (name of a classmate) is the only person that like to read. I don't like to go to the library. Because I went this morning there are no good book to read. I do not like library and I do not like to read books. The books I like to read are short book and science and parts of the body book that it."

"I like checking out books and reading them with my own time just for fun. But what I don't like from going with the class is that we have to do book reports. The kind of book that I like is mistery or realistic fiction."

"I really like to go to the library because I like to read book and some teachers don't let us go. I don't really have a chance to go. I do like to read because by reading a lot you get to get better at it. I like scary books and mystery books."

"I don't want to go to the library because I don't like to read. When I read I am boring. but if there are books of cars I will read about books cars."

"I want to read books en espanish about (animals) or (stories) of (persons)."

"Please I want to go because I want to check out book. I like to read mistry book."

"I don't want to go. I know if go today or (another) day on this (month) I know that I not gonna read. I need to learn more things before I is for to read. And I like books show how to make things."

So there you go. Right after I attended the TESOL Conference in New Orleans, I decided to try having them just check out books and doing free reading. That is according to the keynote speech he gave about allowing kids to read what they wanted - without book reports or assessment. It's pretty wacky - and I am still not comfortable with it because I know that there are a couple of students that are just staring at their books and not reading them. For more on Stephen Krashen and his wacky theories, go to He has some pretty harsh things to say about the National Reading Panel, criticisms about the Accelerated Reader Program, as well as praise of Goosebumps and Sweet Valley High in teaching reading...

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