Let me set the scene. We are working through the first chapter of Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give. As students read, they answer 2-3 questions per page to check for comprehension and assess various skills. I ask a particular student to just read the first half of the chapter and complete nine questions. Easy, right? After a few minutes, I look over and the student is extremely focused on the readings and questions. I let her go, as she appeared focused and we were nearing the end of the period anyway. Before I knew it, buses were being called and she was exiting the building for the day. I asked, "How did you like the first half of that chapter?" She replied, "I really liked that! I read the whole chapter!" I was floored, as this was a rare occurrence for me. A student was reading more than was expected? And doing so willingly?
This experience has proved that there is no such thing as a student who doesn’t like to read. Rather, there are many students who simply have not found the right book yet. Hopefully, this book has piqued my student’s interest; not only for this reading assignment but for future readings as well. I know it may be frustrating to have students that read below level (maybe even several). But no matter the reading level, students deserve to navigate through material that is enjoyable, engaging, and relatable. Take a chance, try new titles, and see how your students respond. I am not saying to forget about the classics, but let's make some of these new titles classics as well!