Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Readicide Book Study, Chapter Two: Laying Blame

Our second chapter outlines the three main causes for Readicide and some suggestions for what can be done.

1. There aren't enough high-interest books available for the kids to read. The author is a high school teacher, and that may be the case there. However, most elementary teachers I know work their butts (and their budgets) off perfecting their classroom libraries. I've invested more heavily, lately, in my book club sets than in my library, and maybe it's time to shift focus again. Truth, books are expensive. The author is all about Scholastic, but, frankly, the book club monthlies have had a lot more fluff and far less real literature over the years. It used to be (Yes, I'm dating myself...) that Scholastic had more academic stuff and Troll had the charm bracelets and the 'Movie Companion Editions'.
     However, Scholastic's book fairs have better stuff, and twice a year, they open their book fair distribution center for a monster half-price sale. In Charlotte, that's the second week of December and the beginning of May. If you're interested in finding out when and where your city hosts this sale, click here. You'll want to save up.
     I also need to put more effort into finding out what's new. A.J., now in high school, has grown past the chapter books of the middle grades, so I'm not so on top of the bestest/hottest books as I once was. I've started following some media specialists on Twitter (@MrSchuReads and @pernilleripp ) to help with that.

2. Challenging Material Is Being Removed to Make Room for Test Prep.  Top five reasons it's worth it to have your own. You'll get my Bridge to Terabithia when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. 'Nuff  said..

3.  Students Are Not Doing Enough Reading In School. Again, in elementary, we often do provide SSR time. When I was a  young teacher, we were expected to read along with the kids, but now I use the time to (Okay, yes, to check email.) and do my conferencing. A.J.'s high school is on a 4x2 block system, so classes are an hour and a half long. His English teacher, Mr. Cole, had them reading at least half an hour a day in class, and I love him for it. For the first time since A.J. left elementary, he was reading again, and reading a lot. Better yet, he found out that he still likes to read. Getting time to in which he has no choice but to read has done wonders for his reading life and his intellectual curiosity.

... and now, here's where I get evil. Feel free to get out your flame guns. I probably have it coming, but I'm going to go ahead and throw this out here. I think there's a fourth reason. Or maybe it's just a subgroup of why number two actually happens.

4. We've got some people in the classroom for the wrong reasons. I went to college with a few girls who barely squeaked Cs out of their methods classes and had to retake their NTEs (For reference, we older teachers took those, rather than Praxis. They were sadly easy, thus the change.) because they didn't want to put in the effort to understand theory or even content; they just wanted to make cute things.  I've actually heard someone say that and seen heads nod in agreement.  At the other end of the spectrum, some people teach because they were the Gold Star Students. They thrive on the order of school and the Attagirl that comes from following the rules. They'll support any and everything downtown does because they're scared of disappointing the Powers That Be. These are the ones who privately lament the increased focus on testing, while outwardly riding the bandwagon. They fear disapproval so much (and, they'll claim, for their jobs, but I've been teaching 22 years in a dadgummed non-union state, and I've never, ever seen any teacher actually get fired) that they'll do anything to avoid it. If you find yourself having to fight for what's right and good for children, you've got to fight these teachers, too, and that's not OK. (You, dear reader, are surely not one of these, because you've picked up a copy of Readicide, which means you're a bit of a subversive yourself. Good for you.)

Okay, rant's over. I'll go put out the fires, now...

And while I'm doing that, you're off to visit with The Whimsical Teacher!

Is this your first stop? You've missed a lot! Start at the beginning,  here.

Want to follow along? Join us! The schedule:
Next week, we'll look at some more contributing factors to Readicide. 


  1. I have to agree that Scholastic is not what it use to be. I cringe when students hand me their book order and I discover it only includes charms and gadgets. What about the books? Each March our PTO buys every students in the school at $1 book from Scholastic for Read Across America. We can usually find one of high quality that most of the students have not already read. For some, it's their first opportunity to own a book.

    Quinnessential Lessons

  2. First of all, I like the new blog design. :) Second, I love your honesty. Point 4 is beautifully written...no fluff around it. I completely agree that teachers are half the problem. In my post I mention that Gallagher makes the very convincing argument that the fight to end readicide MUST start with the teachers. I love that he comes up with a counter argument for every "that's just the way it is" excuse. If we truly want to make a difference, we will find a way.

    The Organized Plan Book

  3. I can't imagine getting a C in a teaching methods class! I majored in Finance.. and a decade later went back for my Masters in Teaching, so I guess my classmates were of a different breed (older adults who really wanted to make a difference of some sort). I got chills when I read about those teachers failing NTE's? *shudders* It's such a difficult profession to go into that I can't believe how many go into it lacking a passion for it.

    I have to say that I've found a lot of great books at local thrift stores and yard sales. I think I find the "newest" books at yard sales. Once or twice a year, I go out on a mission to find *fill in the blank book*. Last year, I wanted to find a class set of dictionaries, and I collected about 30 of them for $30 (I'm happy to pay $1 for reference books). I've also bought entire lots of books on ebay and amazon. I figure if I was a real estate agent (which I was once licensed for), I'd be spending tons of money on advertising and my hair... any true career you have to invest in, so that's why I try to buy books whenever I can. Books are my fake nails.

    Super post with a lot of passionate views. I liked it! :) Looking forward to see what you say next week!


    The Whimsical Teacher

    1. "Books are my fake nails." Best. Line. Ever.

      I do love the folks who came to the teaching profession the long way 'round. They are a breath of fresh air. They have an appreciation of what the real world is like and teach because they want to, not because they feel like they have to. Your school is lucky to get you!