Post 11: Reading??? #AprilBlogADay Challenge

Prompt 11: What are you reading? Professionally or Personally? And if you aren't reading right now, why?

Growing up I loved reading serials- The Baby Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin, in high school I discovered Armistead Maupin's Tales of The City.  There were novels I enjoyed too: Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver and Their Eyes Were Watching God by ZN Hurston and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (which I struggled through but went to the library and listened to all 18 hours on cassette tape and cried at the end).  I know that reading these books growing up had a huge impact on my thinking on narrative and telling stories.  

As I have gotten older, the more I come to terms with the fact that I am not the best reader. I know all the propaganda we teachers use: good readers make better writers.  The more you read the more exposed you will be to big ideas that guide and challenge global leaders and historical events. I don't disagree. I read, but most of the reading I do is sporadic and/or for pleasure (I love romance novels). I have been very honest with students (in AP) this year about knowing one's strengths and when one is is not as strong at something how we develop the skills to push through: the cultural collateral of the cannon. Meaning- I learned to read but didn't really enjoy it until college.  It was in graduate school where I finally came to understand, through  Maureen Barbieri (at NYU) and the works of Nancy Atwell, that when readers select what they read, and are given permission to put a book down if they don't like it, they will own their reading and have great success.  In my teaching career I have never been able to teach a course where students get to read for pleasure.  My favorite English class was in 10th grade, when my teacher, Ms. Van Zwol, designed a course where we were able to select the novels we read.  They had to fall into specific categories and had to be approved.  We also had to do culminating writing at the end of each novel.  I remember more from that year than almost any other.  The power of choice (and of fiction) is something missing from HS ELA today. 

All that said, while I have a pile of books waiting to be read (The Martian by Andy Weir is at the top followed by the first book in the Outlander series.) I do love to write and I know that is my strength.  It always has been but I push myself to read because the love the feeling of finishing a book, seeing the journey and how a book feels in my hand.


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