#SOL18 Day 23 The Making of a Reader

When I was younger, 
I never knew my reading level.
Didn't know there were books
I wasn't allowed
to read.
I loved to read
and so I did
every chance I got. 

I would peruse the library
An open invitation
to choose 
anything I wanted.
Books were my friends
And each one 
a possibility.

I found series books.
Cam Jansen,
Polk Street School,
Then later
Sweet Valley High
Babysitters Club
The Fabulous Five.

I read all the time.
No one asked me
to jot on a post-it.
No one asked me
to summarize 
in my notebook.
No one asked me
to pick a book
at my level.

I still understood
the books I read
enough to want
to keep reading. 

In school
we read
whole class novels
I hated.
Where the Red Fern Grows.
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Books I did not enjoy.
"When can I go back
to my own book?"
I thought.

The school books
were always sad
And my books
made me happy.
I didn't want to read 
about dogs
or being alone
on an island.
I wanted to read
what I wanted to read. 

School is not really
where I became a reader.
I became a reader
when my parents 
read to me.
When I was taken to 
the library
and given freedom
to pick whatever
books called my name.

In spite of school,
in many ways,
I became a reader.

So now I teach students
and I want them to be
who see the library
as a place of
endless possibilities. 
Readers who love
the smell of books.
Readers who 
carry a book
wherever they go.

But I hand them books
I know are certain levels
and I ask them 
to summarize 
and jot,
and sometimes I 
have to say
a book is not for you
right now
but it will be someday

And I'm following the rules
And I'm doing what I'm asked
but I'm not at all sure
If they will read
when they 
don't have to.

And isn't that 
the point
 of it all?


  1. Dispositions are caught not taught! You will teach them because you do love reading! Levels in K and 1 are tricky. We are organizing books different in these grades to emphasize interest first and then level. It has been working nicely!

  2. Your poem captures so much! Your life as a reader in direct contrast to your life as a teacher. While we know that is best for kids to be in 'just right' books, I also think there is room for exploration and finding books 'like' the ones we want to read that are at the right level. Your love of reading will be a part of these children and while you will do what they need to help them grow as readers, you will also teach them to love reading!

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  4. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your reading life and what you value as important, Kathleen.

    My reading life has been complicated. (I wrote about it on Nerdy Book Club if you're interested.) I struggled in lower school thanks to SRA and in middle school thanks to whole-class novels. If I could turn back time, I'd put myself in reading workshops. I think I would've thought of myself as a reader as a kid if I had been.

  5. The joy of your free reading contrasting with school reading creaes strong emotions. I wonder how much might you be able to break the rules.

  6. Such a poem. Thank you for this. This was my reading life outside of school as well. That sort of wild reading is what makes readers. Not the summaries, the post-its, the levels. Somehow I became a strong reader without any explicit instruction that I ever remember in reading. I checked out during reading class--usually hiding my own book behind the assigned book.


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