You Can Hand Them A Book, But You Can’t Make Them Read

Conversations about literacy are often abuzz with buzzwords: text complexity, close reading, leveled texts, lexiles…

But none of these topics have much import if students aren’t even attempting to read assigned texts—and many of them aren’t.

However, there is a much better chance of a student reading an assigned text if that student has developed an authentic reading life outside of Macbeth or To Kill a Mockingbird. This is why Inquiry By Design’s curriculum is built on a foundational course of study that provides the structures and rituals for nurturing strong and thriving independent readers (Creating a Text-Based Culture at grades 3-8 and Introduction to Argument at 9-12). Every other conversation around literacy is built on this conversation.

In this 5-minute video (below), teacher, author, and advocate Penny Kittle makes a compelling case about why students don’t read what’s assigned and how to turn non-readers into rabid readers.

She, and we, embrace the importance of choice. I consider myself a rabid reader, a lover of books, and a literacy professional, but I confess that I too, like Penny Kittle’s students, dislike “assigned” reading.

For further (voluntary) reading on this topic, we like Motoko Rich’s New York Times article, “A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like.” Also check out our post by Dr. Krista Morrison, “Independent Means Independent.”

Find out more about Inquiry By Design’s Creating a Text-Based Culture microcourse for elementary and middle school, as well as Introduction to Argument for high school, which combines independent and directed reading.