The following is my response to “What Young Adults Tell Us About Books, Reading and Educators” and “Assessing adolescents’ motivation to read”:
The MRP Reading Survey:
After reviewing the MRP reading survey and thinking about students’ self-concepts as readers, I agree that students are mislead on what makes a good reader a good reader. Take, for example, the eleventh grader who wrote on his survey that he was a poor reader who did not read very often, yet the most interesting book he ever read was by Michael Crichton. On his own, the student read reviews on this book, read it in full, and can speak on what the novel was about in mature terms. This is a poor reader only by school standards, who are telling kids that they must read the specific books assigned in class, or else. I find the boy’s mixed responses on his survey to be only symptomatic of the larger problem, which is that school practices act as disincentives when the focus of “reading” becomes so narrow. Not only is this boy not reading his dull school assignments, but he has taken it upon himself to go out and find adult novels that speak to him and interest him. He is quite the reader, in my opinion. He is also a great critic.
Translating this same idea to “What Young Adults Tell Us About Books, Reading, and Educators”:
One of the best statements written in this article is, “There is no one template for a reader.” I completely agree that one book will not fit the entire classroom. When we try to make this stretch, we result with kids like the one mentioned above who walk away thinking they are poor readers because they cannot relate. The best “new idea” presented in this article to open up the scope of classroom reading is, “Kids judge a book by its cover.” I have been thinking about the cover of one classic high school novel, The Great Gatsby. While the story is rich and thought provoking, the simple cover does not truly excite you enough to open up to page one, does it? I think a great class project after reading Gatsby would be to assign each student to create a new cover for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. I think a set of sad eyes overlooking the bright lights is rather boring now. So much more can be uncovered about Fitzgerald’s motivations for writing the novel based on his own home life, and kids should be looking into that. The cover of the book should reflect Fitzgerald and his characters, since it was such an intimate novel for him to write.
Going back to the 11th grade boy who was reading Crichton, he mentioned that he first saw the book on a stand in his local bookstore. Could it be because the cover was glossy, bright, and eye-catching? Most likely this is the case. -Sofia