This semester, students in READ 3325.20B were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
By Bertha and Maritza
Many students in today’s classrooms dislike and are unmotivated to read. As students get older, the amount of reading that they do on their own becomes less and less because of the lack of interest. As educators, we must find ways to motivate our students to read by providing them with incentives, and great experiences at a young age, so that as they get older, they can enjoy reading. Many don’t have those experiences at home. As teachers, we must expose our students to authentic literature by sparking an interest to the world around them once they open a book.
Many schools have been using incentives that go with programs such as the Accelerated Reader where students get prizes at the end of the year. Students are given a goal at the beginning of the year, and once it’s accomplished, students are recognized. Other schools have students accumulate points depending on the difficulty and length of the books, then they test and earn points once they pass their quiz for that book. Points can then be redeemed towards prizes their library has. Some districts go as far as rewarding students by providing larger awards. For instance, certain schools in the valley take students on field trips once they have read a million words, thus naming them “Millionaires”. Prizes vary by districts, and by how much importance their teachers place on reading. This type of program has motivated many students to read, but what happens once there are no rewards? What happens when the rewards aren’t as grand? What needs to happen for a student to become passionate about reading?
Students should be exposed to literature that will awaken their interest in reading. Students need to be motivated to want to read for the enjoyment of it, not just because they have to and because they will be rewarded. We as teachers must find ways to provide meaningful activities to accompany the lesson for that specific book we read. For example, if we were to be doing a lesson on fruits, we could do activities having to deal with the grapefruits and oranges that are grown here in the valley. We can find books on how many years it takes for the trees to grow and produce the fruit. We can have a guest speaker from Big Tex, and give the students information on how our fruits are used to produce those juices everyone knows about. We can even go as far as doing some research on what the process is for making the juice. The thing we need to do is get them to read, and reading can’t only be done through books, it can be done through magazines, brochures, billboards and many other ways. The activities must be fun and interesting for the students, and they should also provide a meaningful purpose for reading.
Many of our students lack the exposure to literature at home, and once they come to school, there is no foundation. It is our duty to set that foundation for them, and begin to create what will hopefully one day be a passionate reader. We need to focus on sparking that interest, and once we do that, students at all grade levels will benefit greatly by it. The elementary schools are doing a great deal by providing that foundation and motivation by means of incentives, but it is up to each and every one as educators to continue building on that foundation to make our students passionate readers. There is no one way to approach this, but we do know that the more students are exposed to authentic literature, the better off they will be.