(check the podcast that grew out of this post)
So here's silent reading (SSR - "sustained silent reading") in my reading group this afternoon. Tried this out yesterday, and today the kids were much more comfortable, started getting into it, maybe a little novelty had worn off. What were they reading? Blogs! Who wrote them? Kids!
I'd been thinking lately how my own reading habits had changed in the last couple of years, with the huge increase in blogs, online news, and so on. When was the last time I actually sat down and read a book? The last time I flew back east to see my family. Yikes! I used to feel guilty about this until I took a closer look at the net of my reading. I read so MUCH more now than I ever used to. But it's a different kind of reading.
In third grade it's a constant struggle with many kids to get them to sit down and cuddle up with a book. The "goal" is that they latch on to a chapter book, get hooked, and want to read, read, read. Read what? More chapter books, I guess.
So my kids were (many of them) struggling to have this type of reading be a major turn on, despite lots of encouragement, rewards, and modeling from me. And I noticed that my modeling had slipped lately. Silent reading time was one of the only times of the day when I could sit down at my desk, check my email, read through my Bloglines. Feeling guilty, and somehow feeling it was the right thing to do, I've turned them loose on blogs - to read. Now this is very different from our blogging time in class. Many wanted to know if they could comment on blogs, even work on their own posts. Nope, I said, this is reading time. OK, fine.
The classroom was the quietest and most focused I have seen in a long time during silent reading. Could have heard a pin drop, were it not for the new agey, light classical instrumental background music I always have going at this time. So, what did they gravitate to?
A few of the things I saw them reading: their own blogs, their classmates' blogs, Gordon Brune's kids, Doug Noon's kids, my blog (yes, this one), Wesley Fryer's blog, even. Those were easily reachable, via comment links or hyperlinks I had set up. And this was just day two. They are still exploring, seeing what is out there. It will be a while before they settle into favorites, and return to them on a regular basis. So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it's real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content - created by their peers - and who knows who else?
I will likely not do this every day. There is still value in cuddling up with a book. But that is not they way I read anymore. By the time they grow up, I bet their reading preferences will be worlds away from where they and I are now. My hunch is it will not be cuddling up with a chapter book.