From The Principal's Desk:
Developing the Habit of Reading
Every student should be required to read a self-selected book
daily. Students must be given opportunities to learn how to
select appropriate books, and be given time at home and school
to read, write about and discuss these books. Like literate
adults, students need to develop the habit of reading. When
adults discuss why students don't read, we tend to blame everyone
other than ourselves. My belief is that students don't read
when they live and study in an environment where adults don't
read or are not seen reading.
At the Queens High School of Teaching,
a new school that opened in September 2003, each student
has a 30-minute a day reading activity. Even though class
sizes are high, for this activity students are in small multi-age
and multi-ability groups of about eighteen that includes
students with special educational needs, some of whom need to have texts read to them.
All teachers and guidance counselors have been trained to support
the program. This entails learning how to model "interviewing
a book," writing about a book and reading, and facilitating
student talk about books and reading. Each day teachers and
students read, write about and discuss their reading. However,
if students are to develop the habit of reading, this activity
needs to be supported at home as well.
The Home Reading Program requires parents or guardians to
select their own book and to read with their child three or
more times a week. Parents might read to a child, listen to
a child read, discuss a common text, or read a different text
in the same space that the child reads. The parent's book does
not have to be in English, and parents who are unable to read
will be assisted in locating an adult reading program. From
time to time, parents will be expected to bring their book
to school. For example, there will be a reading activity during
the first Open House. Parents will be asked to share reading
activities that have worked for them.
We are designing a school-wide reading book for the spring
semester. A common text will be selected to be read by all
school personnel (not just teachers), students and their parents.
School-wide discussions and other activities will help to create
a literate community that is developing the habit of reading.#
Nigel Pugh is the principal of the Queens High School of Teaching.