Ah, the excitement is in the air. Brand spankin' new Harry Potter, on sale tomorrow! Whoo-hoo! I promised myself I'd re-read Books 1-5 before 6 came out, just so I'd be caught up. Then when I realized that I'm a teacher and therefore have no free time, I decided that I'd just read 5. Then when my class work piled up, I threw that plan out the window. So now I'll be reading Book 6 armed with nothing but a fading memory of what happened in the last book. Fortunately, I work with kids all day, most of whom would be all too happy to sit down and explain the highlights of the plot to me. Call it teacher perks. :)
Today's Inquirer featured two articles about kids and reading. One specifically geared toward the Harry Potter series, the other focusing mainly on summer reading (for fun, not school). It's heartening to know that there actually are kids out there who read for fun. I was one of those kids. I always had a book with me, sometimes even reading two books at a time. I brought books to the dinner table (which my mother frowned upon), begged to stay up late to read "one more chapter!", and frequently re-visited favorite books.
But as a teacher (and other teachers can back me up here, I'm sure), it's becoming difficult to find kids who love reading that much. We've been talking about this a lot in my Psych of Reading class, and our professor has named several reasons for that:
~ there are teachers who don't love reading, and therefore don't model a love of reading (I can't imagine such a thing)
~ there are parents who don't read, and therefore don't model a love of reading
~ textbook driven lessons, with no discussion or real reaction to the stories
~ kids are used to the fast pace of TV and video games and don't have the attention span necessary for reading or listening to books
A sad story all around. And obviously this doesn't apply to all kids. I know for a fact that there will be kids lined up at bookstores tomorrow at midnight, eagerly awaiting their copy of Harry Potter's new adventure. That, to me, is just awesome.
But there are schools and teachers who don't allow their students to read Harry Potter in school (because of themes like magic and witchcraft). It's even rumored that the Pope is opposed to the series.
Can you imagine that? Kids are getting excited about books and reading, and there are people out there who are trying to stifle it. There's something seriously wrong with this picture.