There are many reasons to read: to gather information, to understand a concept, to complete an assignment, to learn something new, but the most important reason is to read for enjoyment. Whether we are students or teachers, young or old, reading should become a way to enjoy the world around us. Through reading we can explore new places, put ourselves in others' shoes, discover things otherwise unknown. Reading becomes an avenue for learning and adventure.
When reading becomes just another assignment to students, some of that joy fades away. We've all been there. I know I have. As a kid, I was an avid reader, but once reading became more of an assignment than a choice, my enjoyment of reading dwindled. Through the years, teachers here and there in high school and college gave a spark of interest to different types of reading and it started to become more than just something I could enjoy, it truly started to expand my horizons. I discovered new authors, new topics, new reasons to read and that just added to the enjoyment. I guess reading is a life-long journey. Now, time seems to be the only limit to what I want to read.
At Big Universe, reading is balanced between teacher assignment and student choice. My students love putting books on their shelves and sharing book recommendations through the social aspect of the site. The students are also discovering the power behind knowing their own reading levels. I have shown some of my students their levels and how to search for books that are just right. A couple of boys in particular are finding this to be empowering and, in turn, are enjoying their reading experience even more.
With all the reading students are required to do, it's important to remember to make reading enjoyable. Sometimes I have to pause myself and remember this. We're building life-long learners and therefore, life-long readers and the key to that is to make reading an enjoyable and rewarding task.