professornana (professornana) wrote,

Reluctant to...

The dictionary defines reluctant as: unwilling and hesitant; disinclined, unenthusiastic, resistant, resisting, opposed. When we apply the term to the word READER, though, something happens to this meaning. In addition to getting 2.5 million hits, suddenly the phrase reluctant reader becomes a call to arms. Joined with the adjective and noun are verbs such as help, engage, inspire, support, motivate. Yet, when I type reluctant swimmer (and not the urban dictionary phrase, BTW) into the search engine, the recommendations are more about encouragement and building confidence.

Somehow, I think we are using a term that is too confining for the reader. There are times that this definition would apply to me and to many of my colleagues. Sometimes I am unenthusiastic about reading (the latest report from an administrator that goes on for pages and pages; the directions for the bloody cat water fountain I assembled today; a review book WAY outside of my comfort zone). Yet, I doubt that anyone would stage an intervention, assign me to another benchmark test, or label me at-risk.

I prefer to think of those some would label reluctant as readers who have not found good books, readers still searching for that just right book. Sometimes these are readers forced to soldier on to thicker, harder (more complex and rigorous?) books before they are ready. Sometimes they are readers who do not have the same background, experiences, and benefits as the non-reluctant readers: models at home, people who read aloud to them, easy access to books, etc. Sometimes they have not had the role models in schools either (see yesterday's post about the importance of role models).

Whatever the reason, perhaps we need to consider a different approach, a more caring approach? Flooding them with books and with the opportunity to decide which book might make a difference? Providing books and materials in alternative form and formats (audio, eBooks, GNs, etc.)?

Maybe it is time to drop the labels and focus instead on finding books that connect with all readers? Maybe it is time for CHOICE to be the primary factor?
Tags: reluctant
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