I WON’T READ AND YOU CAN’T MEKE ME
Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers
I Won’t Read And You Can’t Make Me is a book that is rich in anecdote and practical in the classroom for ELA teachers written by Marilyn Reynolds, an experienced English teacher who also writes Love Rules and seven other fictional novels.
The primary purpose of the book I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me is to provide ELA teachers with practical application. The author has included Possible Journal Topics (99-100) and Simple Ways to Encourage a Reading Habit (113), and she has also tried to convince the teachers in encouraging them to “offer reality checks to the broader public, and one of the most efficient and effective ways to do that is through publication of letters and opinion pieces in newspaper, and other periodicals that reach a wide readership” (74).
In I Wont’ Read And You Can’t Make Me, Reynolds uses her personal teaching experience in M. H. S. and her struggling at first with dealing with the reluctant readers who are the victims of poverty, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, mental illness, and who have repeatedly failed the standard curriculum. Since the situation is so discouraging, readers can’t help wondering why she chooses to stay. Reynolds gives us a gentle and vivid answer, “Perhaps I stayed because of the angel bending over me whispering ‘grow, grow’” (4). Yes, we can see from her book that Reynolds herself is the angel who bents over to her students and helps each one of them grow and become involved in her Sustained Silent Reading ( SSR) program. What the students have received is a habit of reading for life.
How did she do it? We, as ELA teachers and educators, follow through the pages as she guides us into her world of a difficult, yet happy and rewarding journey with her students. The school Reynolds works as she puts it, “every aspect of our troubled society was manifest in M.H. S.’s conglomerate student body.” In her daily procedure, she has to take care of many non-academic issues before she can actually offer students reading time. However, she firmly believes that “the essence of such reading [SSR] has to do with the increased understandings of one’s self and of the world, of enabling the wounded to heal, the isolated to know they are not alone, [and] the bigoted to see the humanity of others. It is about helping the disconnected connect with the world beyond them and the world within them” (8). Based on such belief, the author practiced on her SSR with her most reluctant students throughout the year, and we can see the obviously responses from her students. Her belief in their ability of reading, their comprehension of the knowledge and their inner connection to this world has achieved what all English teachers have dreamed about. From her successful stories, we need sit back and ask ourselves such question, “ Are there really reluctant readers or are there reluctant teachers?” If we all just have Reynolds’ passion of teaching, her persistence of connecting with her students, her professional methods of guiding them into the love of books, and her diligent working attitude, the “ I can’t , I don’t , I won’t “ kids would become less and less in our classroom. Instead, we would find more and more book lovers. posted by L. L.