For some reason, independent reading is under fire in my high school English class (well, actually, down the hall, too). So, here are 13 responses for when I’m asked:

Reading: What’s It Good For? (13 Reasons)

1) Independent reading “humanizes” us –we can walk in other people’s shoes (Kylene Beers:

2) Because the more you read, the more you know, & the more you know, the more places you’ll go (Dr. Seuss)

3) It’s fun to get out of yourself (from a student blog today)

4) Students gain confidence in several different types of texts (American Library Association:

5) Increased vocabulary, word knowledge, & general knowledge  (Janet Allen)

6) Recreational reading correlates with higher test scores–and college/work readiness  (Kelly Gallagher: Reading Reasons)

7) When students read nonfiction, they begin to understand the world they live in (NCTE)

8 ) One of the critical skills employers want is employees who can comprehend and communicate — choosing your own reading material teaches you to think outside the box (10 Things Employers Want)

9) You’ll learn how to survive a zombie attack!! ( –Hey, it could happen!

10) It’s important to learn to clear away the fluff in elections, or you end up with government officials who try to shut down the government, or blame state employees/teachers for the downfall of the American economy…or, with a Congress who doesn’t know what’s in the health care bill…or cuts to education…

11) Because then you know:  The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. — Mark Twain

12) The Duke University basketball team was able to win the ACC tournament not because they could guess the correct answers from a multiple choice test Coach K gave them on how to beat Virgina Tech and UNC, but because they practiced every single day–to get better. Why would we expect students to be better readers just because they can say the alphabet? (Kelly Gallagher, Reading Reasons & Readicide)

13) Ummm…I’m an ENGLISH teacher….it’s MY JOB!!!!! I’m here to build that stamina that will let a kid get into a flow (Jeffrey Wilhelm & Michael Smith) and get caught up in a story about someone his or her age who’s dying of mad cow disease (Going Bovine) or of cancer (Deadline) or caught between life and death (Before I Fall; If I Stay) or learn about love (An Abundance of Katherines) or about discrimination (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) and bullying (Absolute Brightness) or not accepting the way things appear, but believing in magic (Harry Potter) or  the ability to find something wonderful about another person you shouldn’t probably be with (Twilight; Red-Riding Hood) or how to deal with a friend’s teen pregancy (Someone Like You) or surviving a plane crash in the middle of nowhere (Hatchet) or helping a friend cope with being abducted (The Tension of Opposites). Or, God-forbid, figure out how to survive in outer space (Across the Universe) or how do deal with life when society tells you how and whento do everything–and the adults are MIA (Matched; The Knife of Never Letting Go; Maze Runner).

Wow! I’m set, I think. Let me also say that I am more than tired of people who do not understand teaching but think they should have an opinion on what I’m doing in my classroom. I don’t want to be in charge of anything except the reading and writing lives of my students.  One of my heroes, Penny Kittle, says that to “combat Readicide (systematic killing of reading): give them books they love, help them set reasonable goals for improvement, fire them up every day with a book talk, and then give them 10 minutes of class time a day to fall into a love of language. Expect every kid to become a reader; make it happen.” (from English Companion site). This is my job…my calling.
I’ll end with my favorite quote from one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

(What he said…) The Case for Teaching Literature