Six year old First Grandson pulled me down next to him in the reading corner of his bedroom. “This one, Grandma.” He pushed a Chima book into my hands and then proceeded to correct all my annoying mispronunciation of the names of the characters.
I suggested, “Let’s take turn reading pages,” and he confidently read every other one out loud fluently and with expression. He had made huge strides as a reader since our last visit a few months earlier.
“Great job!” I told him. “You are such a good reader. You make the story sound so exciting I can imagine just how Eris and Ewald look.”
Four year old Second Grandson wandered over to the reading corner with an Elephant and Piggie book. “You’ll have to read all the pages to him,” said First Grandson. “He can’t really read.”
Second Grandson’s lower lip looked a little quivery and I pulled him onto my lap. “You are a reader,” I assured him. “You are the kind of reader who can read all the words in your Bob book and you are the kind of reader who can find books that are just right for you at the library. You are the kind of reader who has a stack of books right by your potty.”
“He can’t have library books by the potty,” offered First Grandson, “not since…”
I interrupt First Grandson to ask him, “What kind of a reader are you?”
“I can read Geronimo Stilton all by myself. I read a whole book about whales.”
One year old Only Granddaughter walked unsteadily through the bedroom door. The boys immediately began to analyze her reading style.
“She’s the kind of reader who can walk and carry a book at the same time.”
“She’s the kind of reader who chewed up a book during nap time.”
“She’s the kind of reader who can make animal noises when she sees their pictures.”
What kind of reader are you? I have this conversation with my middle school students in the library on a daily basis. A boy from the Advanced Learners program is the kind of reader who is systematically working through the nonfiction collection about World War II. A girl who is learning English is the kind of reader who wants books about teens from the Philippines who have moved to the United States.
Then there are the kids who assure me that they aren’t any kind of reader at all and that they hate reading. As we talk more, though, it turns out that they don’t mind reading about cheats for their favorite video games online. Or they like watching movies and they might be willing to take an audio book or use the text to speech feature on an old Kindle. Some students know they are the kind of readers who have to work very, very hard to make sense of words.
Until our students know what kind of readers they are, they won’t be able to set realistic goals for getting better as readers. It’s when students can set a series of reading goals and meet them that they are moving toward CCSS 10, the goal of becoming independent and proficient readers.
What kind of reader are you?
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