Is Celebrating Reading Month More Party than Fun?

Is Celebrating Reading Month More Party than Fun?

Posted by Brainspring on 29th Mar 2017

March is Reading Month is coming to end, but do we really want the party to end?  While most of us love any excuse to celebrate reading, Joe makes a good point in his blog.  Shouldn’t every month be Reading Month?  Feel free to comment and let us know how you celebrate reading all year long.

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 Is Celebrating Reading Month More Party than Fun?

Reading can be one of the greatest joys in the world and to recognize this joy we have designated March as the month to celebrate reading. But what happens when our enthusiasm for the celebration wears off? Think about the last time you were at a party. What do you remember the most? If you are anything like me you probably don’t remember every detail, but remember one or two salient moments.  The month of March seems like a perfect time to amp students up about reading, however, what happens when the party comes to an end? What happens when incentives to read end? Or when no one cares how often you read because it’s April now? And I know what you’re thinking; this is not another corny April fool’s joke. Reading should not be deemed important for one month alone, but forever. So, that brings me to a new question:

“How do we as educators take the celebratory essence of March is Reading Month and transfer continue it every single month of the year?

As a classroom teacher, reading should be woven into the fabric of what we do. It should be routine, expected, and practiced. I think that pulling out all the stops and dressing up what reading is only diminishes the practice as a whole. So, how do we exacerbate this notion of placing more attention on reading only to abandon it after 31 days?

  1. Celebrate reading daily. Whether it’s 5 or 50 minutes, we should communicate the importance of reading and how in those moments we are grateful for the opportunity we are getting to read. Taking this idea and implementing it on a micro level, instead of “March is Reading Month” macro level, will help motivate the students to read with the same voraciousness all year-long and hopefully all lifelong. In other words, there wouldn’t be an overwhelming build up to March, where once the month is over we suddenly deflate the proverbial party balloon. Let’s keep the momentum going by focusing on the small moments over time that do more to encourage students in moving forward toward lifelong reading.
  2. Allow time for reading during school. As a classroom teacher, I understand the demands of teaching four different content areas and the time that it takes to cover that material, however, there’s an undeniable need for students to spend time reading books. Also, we all know that once students walk out of our classroom, their lives might not allow them to read for extended periods of time, therefore we need to build those times into the school day. It sounds like a simple idea, but reading more books builds better readers. On some level I think as educators we have lost sight of this. As the old saying goes, “Keep it simple stupid.” And I’m pretty sure I read that in a book.
  3. Create a culture of students who are intrinsically motivated to read rather than externally motivated. I know that in the school district I teach in we make this big to-do about how Reading Month in March needs to be recognized and special. I agree that the overall idea and practice of reading needs to be recognized and special, but I think we are unintentionally creating a culture of readers who are externally motivated rather than intrinsically motivated. For example, should readers who complete so many minutes of reading a week be given prizes or coupons for free pizza? Or should they want to read to learn more and become a student who seeks out books to satisfy their natural curiosities. Building readers who are intrinsically motivated will have a long-lasting effect and when March comes around it will just be another month, however, the impact that we were trying to create will already be instilled in the students’ nature.

Should we strip the title of Reading Month from March and celebrate reading every day?   Are you someone who has had too much cake when the party is winding down or do you see every day as a party?  How do you keep your students motivated to read all year-long?

 Joe Trobaugh

Joe is a tutor at Brainspring Learning Center in Grosse Pointe.