Many middle school students will say that they don’t like to read, but all my students love the first ten to fifteen minutes of our Friday class: story time.
Students come into class, sit wherever they want, and listen to me read a selection from one of my favorite books. Here’s why:
- It builds community. As people, we love a good story. It’s just part of who we are. But even more, we love to share a good story. It creates a common experience, a common feeling, a common thought. By relating to the characters and sharing that experience with each other, we share with one another who we are.
- It shows students I love to read. It’s harder than you think to share a different book that you love every week. By reading a portion of a different book every week, I’m able to show students that I’m a reader; I practice what I preach. It’s my hope that this passion is contagious.
- It demonstrates the power of reading with emotion. I believe that the way we say our words is even more important than the words we say. Hearing words read with emotion changes us. It makes us happy or sad, enthusiastic or apathetic. I want my students to recognize and learn to utilize this power.
- It gets students excited about reading. After I finish the Friday readings, I put the book on the ledge of my whiteboard for students to check out. I’ll have students rush to my room after school to be the first to get it. Then they whiz through it and pass it on. Story time fosters a community of readers.
Give it a try. Ask students (of any age) to gather around your feet while you read to them. It’ll be one of the quietest times in your classroom the whole week.