September Literacy Tip

Turning Points to Becoming a Reader


Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the first Literacy Tip of the new school year.
Children must be lured into the wonderful world of books; the joy of reading can begin at birth through modeling, reading aloud, and exposure to stories.  Reading shapes our lives, positively or negatively.  Think of your literacy history or turning points on your path to becoming an avid reader.  What attracted you to reading books, magazines, or newspapers?  Who influenced you as a reader?
You may be surprised to know that reading was a struggle during my formal learning years.  The first positive memory I recall occurred during my first year of teaching when a veteran teacher introduced me to an array of read-aloud books.  Reading aloud not only helped me to manage a class of ornery boys but also lured me into the exciting world of print.  Forty two years later, I not only am thankful for the guidance of that caring teacher, but I also have had countless conversations with adults and students about turning points in becoming readers.
I am finding that readers are born every day, often as the result of one caring individual.  What I also am noticing is that student responses differ from adult reflections.  Adults tend to view reading as a meaningful way to interact with ideas and with other adults.  They value the opportunity to read and share thoughts with other readers.  Personal selection of materials based on where they are in their lives is important to them.  For example, new mothers may read and converse about babies, whereas adults in their fifties may read and reflect on retirement.
As I continue to interview students some still report that turning points occurred as a result of teachers reading aloud favorite books, getting to select books of interest, reading and sharing with friends, or independent reading time.  Unfortunately, too many students still respond, “I read to get the assignment done,” or “I read to please the teacher.”
As you begin the 2013-14 school year make a pledge to be that one caring individual who turns kids on to reading and helps them establish a positive literacy history.  Begin by revisiting your turning points to becoming a reader.  Perhaps during a faculty meeting all members could share their turning points to becoming a reader.  Follow the exchange with a discussion of the impact (happiness, humor, wonder, or tensions) the turning points had on their lives.  Perhaps some of the ideas shared could be used to entice students into the wonderful world of reading.
In conclusion, be that one caring individual who models the love of reading and shows students what it means to be a life-long reader.  If you enjoy the newspaper, bring it to school and share snippets of interest or bring a book and reveal highlights.  I am reminded of a high school teacher showing his students The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and saying, “This book is just like Mountain Dew, I can’t get enough of it.”    Of course students wanted to know all about the book and when he finished his read he passed it on to a student to read.  Remember too the power of reading with and aloud to students.  Create a reading bond with your learners this year, it will be a turning point you will not regret.
For more ideas to help students establish positive turning points check out the Literacy and Learning Trilogy at  Please forward this email to other interested colleagues.  Interested readers can go to to sign up for future Literacy Tips.
Happy Reading,