professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Your Reading Compass

There was talk in church this week of direction and our moral compass. Father began by asking all of us to close our eyes and point in the direction we thought was south. I did not even bother to point. I am such a failure at knowing in which direction I am facing. I grew up thinking north was always in front of me, east to the right, etc. How wonderful to think that the compass adjusts to me and not vice versa. With smart phones and GPS and compasses built into my car, I am generally aware of which direction is which with the push of a button. However, place me somewhere without my "crutches," and I am lost.

I am much more certain of my reading compass, though. I know how to find my way. But I wonder if all kids have a reading compass that is true and somehow ingrained into them, hardwired? I move easily across the terrain of books. I might read a dozen picture books (as I do most weeks) and then progress to my audiobook for the commute and then pick up the bathroom book a couple times a day in addition to reading the book I keep next to my reading chair. I know the genres and forms and formats I like and gravitate toward them. However, I venture out beyond knowns into unknowns from time to time (especially when someone recommends the road less travelled).

reading compass

This is a rough sketch of a reading compass. The center of the compass is our comfort zone, the books and materials and genres and forms and formats we already know and love. UP signifies when we push ourselves to read something a bit longer, tougher, complex; DOWN is the opposite: reading easy as my colleague Kylene Beers calls it. Sideways movement is also movement out of the comfort zone, but here the movement is not in text length or complexity. More of the emphasis is on form and format and genre.

As we move through our stacks, the needle of the compass will swing. Sometimes it will point true in one direction. Sometimes it will be NE or SW or some other combination. I wonder how kids might show us their reading compasses as they progress through the year? If we are always dictating the texts, how can the needle ever move in a natural way?
Tags: books, direction, reading
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