Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators. -Stephen Fry
Sunday potluck dinners in the South are awesome. There is always a huge array of church- lady food. You know the kind I’m talking about…Miss Ruby’s secret recipe sweet potato casserole, or Miss Ethel’s homemade from scratch coconut cake. You look down the long table filled with amazing choices and hope the blessing is said quickly and that you’ve got enough space in your stomach to hold a little bit of all of it. You walk away with a plate piled high of a little of this and a little of that. So much better is this than going to a restaurant where you may have a menu full of choices, but you must settle on only one entree. Invariably, I always look around once the food arrives and wish I had ordered what someone else ordered.
Having choices in reading is no different than that Sunday covered dish luncheon. My students have the choice of reading regular books, and they can also read from their iPads. They have many books both hard copy and electronic to choose from. They can read from a variety of genres and from a variety of topics on a variety of reading levels. This is a time when more is definitely…well…more. Already my kindergarten students are referencing author styles, comparing illustrations, and making connections to other texts with their reading partners. One student recently asked another, “Do you like Eric Carle’s illustrations better than Dr. Seuss?”
Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer states: “People who lose the ability to make choices become disempowered. This is true for adults, and it is true for young readers. When every book a child reads is chosen for them — by parents or teachers — children lose self-motivation to read and interest in reading. Children should choose their own reading material most of the time, but they need exposure to a book flood to determine what books they like and learn how to choose their own books. “
Choices encourage engagement, engagement encourages stamina and stamina teaches the curriculum of time. Children need to learn to read by reading. By offering them a veritable table of “covered dish” choices, they don’t have to decide between the sweet potatoes and the mashed potatoes…they can have both. And isn’t that the best of both worlds? Pass the gravy y’all…
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