This is Part 4 in Melissa’s case The Secret of the Resistant Readers.
When we left off last time, I told you I was channeling my inner Nancy Drew. What I didn’t tell you was that I was also channeling Nina, my amazing master teacher.
I remembered some advice she gave me when I was working in her classroom: sometimes the most important time to keep your mouth shut is when you have big feelings about something that’s happening with your kids. Her advice was to take some time, sleep on it, and try to figure out what to do the next morning, when the day’s fresh.
I did, and the next morning I decided to get curious.
A Canary Sings and the Culprit is Unmasked
My students love to help in the classroom at lunch time, and that day I picked Mr. Tyler as my helper because I had something up my sleeve.
While we were cutting things out, we made a bit of small talk. Then, I decided that it was time for the interrogation to begin. I nonchalantly filled Mr. Tyler on the clues I had picked up during the last couple of times we’d done Drop Everything And Read.
And then I asked him the hard question, “Why haven’t the kids been reading during DEAR?” I held my breath, waiting for him to reveal the secret.
He stopped his cutting and looked up at me, a little skeptically, trying to gauge if he could be honest. When he finally answered, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Miss. I know that you went through a lot of trouble to get us all those books. But most of them aren’t very good.”
Aha! “Those books aren’t very good.”
His words echoed in my head for the rest of the day.
A Forgotten Secret
As I contemplated the words of my student over a plate of my mom’s lasagna that night, I couldn’t help thinking about how this situation tied in to food. You’re probably wondering why, but just hear me out.
Now, I love to eat more than most people I know, I come from a family of eaters. When we go on vacation, or when my family comes to visit, our time usually consists of restaurant hopping to the most delicious eateries in town.
Not only that, but when we’re chomping on brunch at Cafe Latte in LA, you can probably bet we’ll be talking about which sandwich we’re going to be ordering for lunch at Bay City’s Deli in Santa Monica. As I munch on my caprese sandwich, you can bet I’ll be debating with my Uncle over which dish is the best at Zumaya, which we’ll be heading to for dinner directly after we finish up at the deli, because it’s in Hollywood, and you know how our freeways are in this city.
But I don’t care if it’s the last thing in the room, if you leave me in a room with one of my dad’s beloved Tommy Burgers, you would not have to worry for one single minute that it will be gone when you return.
I had essentially filled my bookshelves with Tommy Burgers.
With a little help from my student, I felt like I was well on my way to cracking the case.
I was going to have to find my kids some tasty books.
But, I couldn’t help wondering: Was I still in over my head? And: How could I figure out which books would really grab them?
*Takeaway Tip: *If you’re kid’s not reading, a friendly interrogation might be helpful. I was lucky enough to have 20 kids, so I could pick a kid who would spill it after being asked one question.
Now, all kids aren’t like that, so if yours is one that’s likely to clam up under direct questioning you’ll have to channel your inner Nancy Drew. Listen to them when they talk about reading. Pay attention to their body language when books come up. It just might be a sure-fire way to avoid wasting time following a false lead.
And P.S. If some teacher’s telling you your kid’s not reading because they’re lazy, you might want to try transferring your sweet pea into another class. There’s *always* a reason, and where here to help you get to the bottom of your mystery, as well!
*Invitation: *Would *love * to hear about some of the walls that you’ve found that stood between your kids and loving reading. And how you worked through them, or if you’re still needing some help.
Melissa is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.