Changing Reading Mindsets for the New Year

Happy New Year! It is funny how we all think differently about New Year’s traditions. I am always interested to hear how different people celebrate: special traditions, parties, foods to eat, and resolutions.

Every New Year’s Day, I make two resolutions for the upcoming year. I also remind myself that these are year-long goals, and I am more likely to keep them if I plan out smaller goals throughout the year. (I also make resolutions on my birthday in July, as that starts a new year for me, too.)

This year, I set a goal to read at least 100 books (measured on Goodreads, if you want to follow me there), which is low, but I have noticed myself doing more article-reading than whole-book reading lately. My personal goal is to focus a lot more on my “sock moments” (explained in my previous blog post). I want to be in the present more and worry about the future less.

Now, I know I am speaking to school librarians here, and I am betting that almost all of you make reading goals every year. I specifically include all types of books in my reading–picture books, chapter books, adult novels, nonfiction, and professional reading. I have met many adults in my life who have strange definitions of reading. I had a principal once who told me she never gets to read and then two sentences later in the conversation told me about the six professional books she had read in the last month. When I asked about this, she said that wasn’t “real” reading because it wasn’t a “beach novel.”  Another adult told me that they don’t consider children’s books “real” reading either. Yet another said they are not a reader because they have too many articles to read. Could that person not hear themselves? I wonder how they get those ideas.

I had a fifth-grade student one year who was so proud of himself that he announced to his whole class, while holding a book over his head, that he had finally read a book at his Lexile level. His teacher’s response (to the whole class): “You are a fifth-grader now. We don’t read baby books like that anymore.”  I am sure she meant that he should read longer books than his 48-page nonfiction book, but I watched his face fall as the following thoughts went through his brain: “Short books are for babies; nonfiction books are for babies; my Lexile is for babies; I am a baby.” Have your hearts all broken like mine for this poor child who became a non-reader right before my eyes?

Of course, none of us would make that mistake, but as we encourage our learners to set their own reading goals for 2022, maybe we can focus on the messages we send learners about reading. For our young learners to think of themselves as readers, they look to their role models. If we hear teachers talking about nonfiction/professional reading as “not reading,” maybe we can redirect their mindsets to consider all types of reading as reading. This small step may eventually change how other educators, and eventually all other adults, see reading. It may even change how all content is viewed, allowing all reading to be acceptable as an exploration of self and the world, with nothing considered taboo. I would like to live in a world like that. I resolve to change the world one reader at a time.

Author: Jennisen Lucas

Categories: Community, Presidential Musings

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