Teachers at Partee Elementary School have asked me to introduce them to Just Read. I am going to chronicle our adventure together on this blog. Let me begin by saying that you do not have to be at this school to try Just Read. You can follow along with us and give it a try on your own. Let us know how it goes!
Let me start with a little introduction to what Just Read is.
Have you read a good book lately? Was it the kind you did not want to put down? Did it make you laugh right out loud? Did it shake you up? Are those characters still walking around in your brain? Do you want to shake everybody around you and say, “You have got to read this book?” John Greene describes this phenomenon best (doesn’t he always?) in The Fault in our Stars:
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
When I say we want our students to become readers, this is the kind of experience I want them to have. Well, maybe not to this extreme every time, but I want them to always be on the hunt for the next good book. I have been searching for a name for this kind of reader for quite awhile. What do you call the kind of reader who chooses to read when it is not required? What do you call a reader who makes reading an essential part of living? Authentic? Empowered? Successful? Strong?
Maybe we just call them a reader.
Maybe we want our students to become this kind of reader because we are this kind of reader. I dare say some of us became teachers because we want our students to become this kind of reader.
So how do we do this? Of course, we teach them how to read, but becoming a reader is more than being able to read. I contend that if we want our students to choose to read, we need to give them the opportunity to do just that. If we want our teachers to give students time to read what they choose, we are going to have to give them permission. Just Read does this. Just Read encourages teachers to give their students time for free reading every day. Just Read reassures teachers and administrators that even though it is not instruction, free choice reading increases academic success. Just Read does not take the place of instruction, but it celebrates the joy of reading for its own sake.
Just Read asks teachers to give their whole class a few minutes every day to read whatever they choose regardless of level, subject, genre, or format AND without any grades, assignments, points, or prizes.
You have many questions now, right? Ask away. Answers are coming. But I have a question for you – Have you read a good book lately?