The first one I see often has its origin in a realization kids come to: if I say the book is boring or stupid or wrong for me, I do not have to finish it. And I do think we need to give kids permission to abandon books. I do. Not often, mind you. But there are books, often ones others love, that just do not do it for me. Given the myriad of books out there, it is OK for me to abandon one or two and move on to others. My concern here, though, is that some kids learn that they can abandon at will and never finish a book. I cannot tell you how many kids I taught in middle school who admitted to never reading an entire book. That was always an alert to me: make sure this does not become a game. You know the games, right? The kids who nod their heads that they understand, but they do not (guilty of this one myself) is one of my favorite ones.
This is why folks like Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle and others advocate keeping track some way to make sure reading is actually occurring. We can walk around and do some informal assessments about progress. We can use logs kids keep in their notebooks. We can have them share in class. There are plenty of ways we can take this rationalization and put it to rest. I will tackle some other rationalizations in future posts.
For now, it is time for me to shower and head out to the rainy streets of Seattle and make my way to the Odyssey meeting room. Two 12 hour days of discussion are in front of us. Now, I am not a huge fan of meetings, but this is TOTALLY different. Passion, precision, persuasion, and more: what energizing fun to be with others who have been listening and noting and preparing for this final stage in our charge. Tune in Monday for the live announcements from Seattle!