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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Readicide: Endangered Minds

Welcome back to part 2 of our book study on Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. This is a blog hop so you'll want to click on the link to the next blog to continue along. If you missed chapter one, you can go back and read it here so that you at least have his definition of readicide in mind.
In chapter two, the author gives three major factors contributing to readicide:

A dearth of interesting reading material in our schools- Since moving to a new grade meant moving to a new room, I inherited a couple of bookshelves full of books. Before I even had a chance to look at them, our facilitator told me that those books were everything she could find to help an intern build a classroom library for last year and that it would be great if I could give them to the new teacher since she had heard me say that I had a lot of fifth grade books at home. Well, when I got around to moving, it was apparent that everything she could find was literally the bottom of the barrel. I'm a little embarrassed to box them up and give them to the new teacher because there's a lot of junk in there. Last year's poor intern really did have a dearth of interesting reading material in her room. How does this happen? First the intern probably had no idea that she could ask. Yes, ask and you shall receive is something my school is pretty lucky about. We also have a foundation that solely works to provide grants to teachers in our district and they always fund books. She probably didn't know either of these things. But we have to find ways to get not just books, but great books into the hands of our students. A couple of shelves of books that no one wants to read is just as bad as having no books. We have to get the books into the hands of the students and that probably means we also need to find ways to get the kids excited about the books. But first we need to stock our shelves with a variety of high interest books.

"Let me be clear: if we are to have any chance of developing a reading habit in our students, they must be immersed in a K-12 'book flood'." (page 32)

Removal of novels and other challenging works in order to give more test prep time- This sounds so ridiculous to me, but I know it's happening. Years ago I was teaching second grade and a colleague told me that she had given up reading aloud chapter books because there wasn't enough time. What???!!! Not enough time to read? Maybe we are missing the point.

"In a famous study of fifth graders, Anderson, Wilson and Fielding (1998) found a strong correlation between time spent reading and performance on standardized tests." (page 35)

Here's what they found:
I seriously just gave my 15 year old a lecture about reading more. If we want them to do better on tests, we should give them more time to read, not more test prep.

Not enough reading in school- SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) and DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) were really popular when I started teaching. Everyone was talking about it and teachers were told they should be reading right alongside the kids. It was considered modeling. Now, 25 years later, I can't remember the last time I heard someone mention silent reading time by any name and I've never see a teacher carrying in her own book to read during silent reading. I'm not talking about reading during small group reading time where the students are reading their assigned book, I'm talking about pure reading for enjoyment. Are we giving kids enough time to read books of their choice? Here are some interesting, but disturbing, findings from 2007:
  • Less than 1/3 of 13 year olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier.
  • Among 17 year olds, the percentage of nonreaders doubled over a 20 year period - it was 19% in 2004.
  • On average, Americans ages 15-24 spend almost 2 hours a day watching television and only 7 minutes of their leisure time reading.
  • Nearly half of all Americans ages 15-24 do not read books for pleasure.
I think it's time for us to go back to SSR or DEAR time and according to the author, here's why:
  • SSR is a valuable investment in test preparation.
  • SSR is necessary to allow students an opportunity to build their prior knowledge and background.
  • SSR provides many students with their only opportunity to develop a recreational reading habit.
It's time for me to go back to my schedule and look for ways to get more reading time into the day. I would love to hear what you have given up/gotten rid of in order to get more reading time in. If you want to check out this great book - so interesting and applicable to all grades - click on the cover.

Click on the cover to go to Amazon.

Check out our schedule for the rest of the book before you hop on over to The Organized Plan Book.

The Organized Plan Book


  1. "A couple of shelves of books that no one wants to read is just as bad as having no books." That's a great quote.. I try to remember that while looking for great deals at thrift stores and yard sales. It's so hard to pass up on free books too as I'd like to think every book has some value to it, but sadly, they are not all cut from the same cloth!

    I feel like silent reading time is almost a dirty word now. It's an option for a "lazy" teacher, who needs to learn more reading strategies. I actually get nervous using it in my class sometimes. I also hear it used a lot for punishment, which is also contradictory to fostering a "love for reading".

    Great views, I'm looking forward to next week!

    1. When I was a kid, I would have loved to have been punished by being forced to read! But seriously, how does that even make sense? What crime fits the punishment of being forced to read???!!!!

  2. It's so sad that so many do not see the value in SSR or DEAR especially when the evidence is there in the research. I have to agree that many think a teacher is being lazy if she gives her class time to read. I for one am going to make an effort to do DEAR time every day. I want it to be something the students look forward to as well.

    Quinnessential Lessons

    1. Then I shall be judged as lazy because I am squeezing in some DEAR time this year.

  3. Great post. I too am guilty of cutting out daily independent reading because of time restraints. It is just backwards thinking! There isn't enough time because so much time is spent helping my students improve their writing or critical thinking, when in reality, evidence shows that daily silent reading will help improve each of these areas...

    The Organized Plan Book

    1. It's funny how we just kind of let go of something that is research sound. I stopped teaching for 7 years and when I came back no one was doing it and so I never picked it up again...until now. I am so glad I'm reading this book.

  4. Interesting read! If I think about it, I am seeing less and less DEAR time in my school as well. I think several classrooms don't do it at all right now. We do a school wide DEAR during I love to read month where everyone in the building (Adults included) has to DEAR together for 15 minutes. I don't think this once a year occurrence is doing much to move our school forward.

    The Math Maniac

    1. It wasn't until I read this book that I realized how little recreational reading we actually allow during school and if you use it as a fast finisher, well then the kids that need it the most never get it. At least your school has an occurrence you can build upon, my school...nothing.

  5. I love that you're taking your SSR time into your own hands. If other teachers think you're being 'lazy', they'll quit when your scores rock. Besides, you've got the research base! ;)

    1. I think I just found our next teacher book club book, so maybe I can get others to reconsider too.