I believe I do a fair amount of reading. My job requires that I do so. I read articles, reports, blogs, and news clippings, many of which I find on Twitter. While I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, I feel I’m pretty much in the loop on anything that directly applies to my position, our district, myself, or my children.
Evidently I must not be READING, though.
As a middle level educator, you’d have thought I would have read The Hunger Games some time ago. Last spring I put it on my “Summer Reading List.” Well, summer turned to fall and I still hadn’t read the darn book. So I did. And I liked it. So, I immediately turned to Catching Fire, and finished the series with Mockingjay – all within about a three week span. I hate to admit it, but that might have been a personal record for me in the “Reading for Enjoyment” category.
A funny thing happened while I was reading Suzanne Collins’ series. Each of my three children (ages 10 – 19) commented on me “reading.” The oldest, who happened to be back from college for a weekend, stated, “You are reading that?” Granted I haven’t spent as much time with the literature popular with my middle schoolers, but still it isn’t like she hasn’t seen me reading such books. Or maybe she hasn’t.
Easy reply – “Yes. It is very popular with middle school kids.”
“I know.” I scratch my head a little while she shakes hers.
Thanksgiving Break. Ah, an opportunity to jump into book number two of the series. Upon finding me well into it, my 10 year-old states, “Dad, I thought we were going to read that one together?”
I reply, with guilt, “I’m sorry. You’ll catch up.” Fairly confident, in my own mind, that he will, so I read on. I leave out the, “Uh, you said that about Hunger Games.”
Finally, the middle child, as positively stated as a teenage girl can, comments on the speed at which I’m breezing through the final book in the series.
So, in summary, in my kids’ eyes, I do not read, and what I do must not be challenging, age appropriate, material. I don’t read to or with my kids, and evidently I don’t read very fast either. I couldn’t honestly dispute any of those charges.
My point is it isn’t what we think we are modeling that matters, it’s what is seen, through their eyes, that makes an impact. Modeling must be specific and intentional, not random and assumed.
Yes, I will be changing what I read in front of my kids. I will be strategic in the times I choose to open the laptop and when it would be best to open a book. It probably wouldn’t hurt to carry that book into a classroom as well.