When was the last time you read a book for fun? If you are an English teacher probably not in the last few years. It’s funny because many of us chose our majors and careers based on of our love of books yet they demand so much time spent reading to prep for classes and to mark papers that reading for fun gets left behind. One of our goals as English teachers is to inspire a love of reading in our students, and we try to do this by incorporating a variety of genres, independent novel studies and silent reading in our classrooms, but while this is happening we catch up on marking, do attendance, or prep for the next class rather than spending the time satisfying our own love of reading. How can we teach our students about enjoying reading when they do not see us model that importance, and instead focus on other tasks. One of my goals as a teacher is to make time to read for enjoyment while my students are silent reading.
Life of Pi is the book that inspired me to choose English education as my major. I read this book in the summer between grade eleven and twelve for my AP English class and the sense of adventure, the take on religions, the beautiful description, and the reflective ending all left me utterly in awe of what words can do. Two years later I had the opportunity to meet Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, and got to listen to him speak. I had the opportunity to tell him how his novel inspired my career choice and he wrote in my book “may stories carry you over oceans” a quote I then got designed into a tattoo. This tattoo is meant to remind me of that love of reading, and why I choose English education during those months of school where I am questioning why I choose to become an English teacher.
We have to make time to read for our own enjoyment and share that with students. Begin each class by sharing an interesting news article, participate in the silent reading, or start a book club at your school. Why would our students see reading as valuable if we act as if it’s unimportant? By changing our teaching methods in small but drastically important ways this we can show our students that reading for fun is worthwhile and hopefully create life long readers.