Day 70: Claire, Middle School English teacher

[ By on January 11, 2013 ]

At the risk of pushing back against our RCS character strengths, I am beginning to wonder if my sixth and seventh grade English students possess too much grit. As readers, that is. Grit is essential to many academic and personal endeavors, but when it comes to developing their reading lives, I would like my students to feel more comfortable quitting.

Upon our return from the winter vacation, my students presented 60-second book commercials, advertising a book they had read over the break. Each student had the choice to promote a book or discourage classmates from reading it. Most students created commercials in favor of the books they had read, but I was surprised by the number of students who had not enjoyed their books but had powered through to the end, miserably.

Why hadn’t they put these books down and chosen others? Their responses varied: a few said that because they had paid for the books, they felt obligated to finish; others didn’t like the feeling of “quitting”. Most were unaware that they were “allowed” to put a book down. Yes, I promised, it is okay to put a book down. We all do it. Part of becoming a strong reader is developing a sense of your own literary taste. No, you may not put Julius Caesar down when we read it together, but when it comes to your independent reading, once you’ve given a book a fair shake and are just not engaged, put it down. Choose another. See me for a recommendation. Go down to the library. Just put the book down and, please, stop persevering.

Claire teaches sixth and seventh grade English. Over the break, she jumped around between reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Gone Girl, Penny Marshall’s memoir, People of the Book, and The Inheritance of Loss. The last two she checked out from the RCS library, gladly.

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