How do we grow readers and writers? Well, how do we grow anything? With a little TLC of course! You cannot simply just push your students to like reading and writing. The more you push, the more they will stray. It takes time and patience. It takes love and it takes care. Start off by easing them into the world of books and writer’s notebooks. Don’t scare them off! Encourage them on!
I’ll admit that I was never one to come out and say “yes, I love to read!”. That was not the cool thing to do in elementary. Of course I would read books but never in the eye of my classmates. But my sixth grade teacher changed that. She made it fun for all. Every day at the same time, she would take out a book and start reading. And she picked the best books, too! We would all be still and listening so intently that you could here a pen drop in the room. And when the time was up, she would put the book away and say “until next time”. Everyone would throw their hands in the air and say “NOOOOO! Keep reading!” She gave in a few times to us. I think she was so happy that we were all so engaged that she couldn’t say no! That was the one thing that got me really hooked on reading. When I would pick up a book, I wouldn’t put it down. I got lost in the worlds I would be reading about and that’s when I knew I was a die-hard reader.
My teacher didn’t force reading onto me. She eased me into it by reading to the class. She made us all want to read! Looking back on it now, it really did help us pick up more books. But just because we were reading more independently doesn’t mean she stopped reading to us. She loved it just as much as we did.
I think writing goes the same way. You can’t force it onto students. You have to ease them into it. Yes, writing is required in schools but show your students that you legitimately care about their writings. Show them that writing isn’t just for school work but it can be an escape from everything and anything.
Students need a little TLC to become great readers and writers. So let us give them that. A student’s mind is like a flower. It needs a little sunshine (a caring teacher), some soil to stand firm (knowledge) and a lick of water (the love for learning). If we can provide all of that, our students will be the most fruitful flowers in the garden!