How to Engage ALL Kids in Reading

One of the greatest challenges facing educators is getting students to be proficient, passionate readers. Surprisingly, the solution to conquering the reading challenge is surprisingly simple...

About two years ago, I was working with a school district with a poverty rate of over 70% in a semi-rural area. The teachers and I were transitioning the middle school literacy curriculum from a more teacher-directed, traditional paradigm to a student-directed, literature circle, and writing workshop paradigm.

As I worked with my teacher colleagues, I was fortunate enough to get to know them and their students. One teacher (I’ll call her Ms. Smith) taught the lowest level readers in the 6th grade. As she and I prepared some team lessons, I was eager to meet her kids and I was immediately struck by the differences I witnessed in her class and their attitudes toward reading.

More than 20 years of literacy teaching experience has taught me was to be ready to deal with reluctant and disinterested readers, as this is usually the case with the lowest level readers. Yet this was not the case on the first day and every day that I co-taught with Ms. Smith.