Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Students are Fighting to Read

At an ESL Workshop this summer, Susan Adams mentioned how she was reading while the students were reading and somebody asked her about her book. Susan's response was something to the effect of "You wouldn't want to read this book," or "It's just a regular book," or something. And it made the students crazy about that book!

As I hear this I'm thinking, "That'll never happen to me. I don't know how to lure kids like that." And I really don't think I do it well. I think I make it too obvious that I'm trying to entice them.

So. My students are reading about Mary McLeod Bethune, 1st generation free black woman. Our book referenced Uncle Tom's Cabin, so I borrowed the book from the library so they could see that, in fact, it is a real book. They then asked if I'd read it to which I responded, "No." Long story shorter, I'm reading it now, persuaded by my students. As I read it while they're reading, I gasp every now and then. Or tear up. Or laugh. It's a deeply enthralling and moving and enraging book.

Well, that has them entirely curious. I keep telling them (in all honesty and sincerity) that they should not read this book until they're at least in high school. Which only makes them more curious! I had a sub the other day. I came back the next day and all the students are giggling. "We got the sub to read us a page and a half!!" (I won't read it to them. 1-It's crazy hard to understand. 2-It's got really mature content!) I've found my book missing, my notes/quotes that I'm writing down in someone else's book, students actually reading my book. I finally asked them, "Why do you want to read this so badly??" "Mrs. Steele," they cried, "you just make it sound so good. So mysterious. I mean, you cry sometimes! It's just GOT TO be a good book!"

WOW and LOL!! Anyways, what I thought would never happen to me did! I didn't even try to trick them into it. I was just being honest, and it caught them. I. Love. Teaching. Students.

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