My job is to teach kids how to be good readers, but last night I was thinking about myself as a reader. Am I a good reader? Sure, even with my busy schedule, I can fly through 3-4 books a week. I read a huge variety of books. I’m sometimes obsessed with books. But I’m not sure that makes me a good reader.
I sometimes think that I read books too fast. I know I read books too fast. I can absolutely tell you what the book is about, who the main characters are, the plot. But could I go back and tell you the point of view or references to other literature or pop culture, or current events? Could I really explain the deeper meaning of a certain passage? Absolutely not!! And to me, that is crazy! Here I am trying to teach my students to do all of those things: really understand what they are reading and be aware of what the author was trying to get you to notice, or understand, or see in a different way, and I don’t even do those things myself.
Do I want to do all of those things? Yes and No. Sometimes I like to just read to escape. I don’t want to have to have to think about all of those things. I read to relax my mind sometimes, and I’m ok with not having an in depth understanding of a book.
On the other hand, there are books that I want and need to delve into. It’s a must that I delve into my books for school; the ones that my students will be reading. I need to have a deeper understanding of those books. So how do I do that? I have to take my own teaching advice and track my thinking as I read. My students track all of their thinking on sticky notes as they read. Its amazing the conversations they have about books by looking back at their sticky notes and seeing what they were thinking as they read. I read many ebooks so it is also nice that most ebook apps have the notes feature which I plan to use more often, not just to highlight my favorite quotes.
I need to slow down as a reader. I don’t have to read 5 books a week even though my TBR list is staring me in the face every day, taunting me, screaming at me to read more books and shorten that list. Who am I kidding? My TBR list will NEVER get shorter, so I just need to slow down, delve into the books that I need to really understand, and then read at my normal pace with those that I read just for fun.
Reading for me is so many things: it’s for pleasure, it’s for knowledge, it’s for relaxing my mind, or challenging my mind. It’s a passion that I want to pass on to so many others. I realize that I don’t have to delve into every book that I read. Being aware of my purpose for reading determines how I read: how fast or slow, how in depth. Knowing your purpose for reading and then adjusting how you read: that’s what being a good reader is.