To get right to the heart of the issue, I found Kittle’s sentiments about students learning to take ownership over their reading to be so important. With reading comes learning, and I believe that we do not learn unless we are passionate and curious about that which we are learning. Kittle says, “The purpose of personal reading is joy, curiosity, and interest–the kinds of things that are the foundation of my own reading life (119).”
Additionally, “Prompting students’ thinking by way of inquiry, not direct teaching, is the essence of education. Students remember what they do and what they discover not what they are told (121).” I love this, because it applies totally to me and my reading experience. The only way I came back to reading as an adult was to have the choice to do so. I chose the books I enjoyed and I chose when and why to read. It became an important part of my day and had a purpose for me. Many students that Kittle interviewed insisted that reading had a very relaxing effect for them, when students could unplug and not think about anything else for a while. It has much the same value for me, as well as giving me new ideas for writing, allowing me to study other styles of writing, and learning about other cultures and people worldwide (and even some fantasy worlds!).
In Dr. Ellington’s Theory of Teaching Reading class, we talked about making sure that students are comfortable in their growth as readers. It is not beneficial to shove challenges at students when they are not ready. From one quarter to another, one of Kittle’s students grew at an amazing rate because his teacher allowed him to grow in his own time. He first said that he was not ready to challenge himself except to read more widely. In the next quarter, he blew his reading rate to “smithereens” and planned to continue that reading rate.
In her final chapter, Kittle relays the struggles that she has using her practices in her school. Her school actually seems to be very supportive of her, especially the principal. However, not every school and administration is going to understand the practices that she has proven to work. Some teachers do not see the value in reading, stating that it’s more important to make sure students are eating and are emotionally well. Kittle proves, in her final story, that reading does in fact, help students to succeed in many ways. Her student, a survivor of relationship abuse, a miscarriage, and home troubles, learned to find her voice through relating to characters in books and writing her own story as well. She was the first in her family to graduate high school. Kittle thanks reading.