To abandon or not abandon? A reader’s dilemma.

Should I abandon this book or stick it out? Why do some people abandon books while others refuse? How do I coach my students through reading grit and endurance and helping them to understand that it’s okay to not like a book you read when I regularly abandon books I’m not enjoying?

These are questions I’ve been struggling with for quite some time, but tonight I think I stumbled upon some beginning of an answer and I’m wondering if it makes sense to anyone but me.

This summer, I was given the opportunity to work with the company behind a new platform for engaging and interactive online reading for students. The platform (and company) is Actively Learn and you should totally check it out. One of the blog posts I’m writing for them is about reading strategies in the real world, so I was thinking about what reading strategies I actually use as a reader outside of the classroom. This lead into thinking about teaching reading strategies in my classroom, which lead to thinking about how I want to start the school year, which reminded me that I wanted to have a more heavy emphasis on setting a purpose for reading this year.

At the beginning of the last school year, I spent time talking with students about why we read to set a purpose for the entire school year but for some reason (#newbieteacherproblems) that didn’t translate into having students think about their purpose for reading something for the rest of the school year.

And somewhere in this line of thinking it hit me: Whether or not we choose to abandon books depends entirely on what our purpose is for reading them. 

A friend, who is actively pursuing her life as a writer, reads books primarily for the purpose of making herself aware of the kinds of books that are already out there, and to study writing craft. As a result, she rarely (never?) abandons books. You can learn just as much about writing craft from terrible books as you can from phenomenal books.

I, a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, pursue most reading outside of school for the purpose of enjoyment. If I’m not liking a book or if I think it’s badly written, I quit reading it.

This lead me to consider the numerous texts I was required to read for classes and how my purpose for those was entirely different. I may not have enjoyed the literature review in Chapter 2 but my purpose was to be prepared for class and to investigate why the professor wanted me to read it.

Does our purpose for reading entirely drive our willingness or unwillingness to stop reading? Or is this some nonsensical thought train I’ve stumbled upon?

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