When I was teaching middle school communication arts I would ask my student this question early in the year. The answer was invariably: books said more often than not with a sigh of resignation. I actually looked forward to this answer because it gave me the chance to raise an eyebrow, cock my head to the side, and say “That’s it, just books? Really? Because I don’t know about you but I read a lot of books but most of my reading each day isn’t in books. So think for a minute what else do you read?”
This sparked a great list and if the kids didn’t come up with some of my favorite answers I’d fill them in or give them hints. I’ve had to try to remind myself of this question lately though in the struggle to get my son to read regularly, read books that is. I’ve had to remind myself that he does sit down with the Lego Club magazine when it comes in and devour it cover to cover. He has recently discovered that he really can’t play most of the video games we own without reading as he goes, we like RPGs at our house Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts are favorites though he being all boy has fallen hard for Halo 1 and 2 lately. He reads signs and billboards as we drive down the road, he reads the boxes in the pantry and he’s starting to read more and more online. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t grab the comics from the paper and read them all, so he does read and I’d forgotten how much.
When I required my students to complete a reading log each week I found they were more likely to do the log if they could count things besides books. I still wanted at least half of their reading to be from books but the other half could be any of the above and yes I included video games, well depending on the game 😉 I introduced students and their parents as I felt they should have permission before visiting any place online to the site fanfiction.net (which reminds me I need to see if there are any acceptable Diary of Wimpy Kid fan fics on the site for T). I have found myself lost in stories using my favorite movie, tv, and book characters many times.
When it came to books I wanted my students to be exposed to the wide world of books: graphic novels (my son’s new favorite) and manga, fiction, non-fiction, serials, free verse, all of the various genres. The more variety kids and adults for that matter see, the more likely it is that they will find something they actually want to read.