The well-intentioned strategy of allowing students to choose their own reading material most often fails. To pad their grades, unambitious students choose easy-readers below their achieved comprehension level, while go-getters overreach, sacrificing the comprehension they need. As Mark Pennington puts the case in his article on the Pennington Publishing Blog, “Students often choose books with reading levels far below or far above own their reading levels and so do not experience optimal reading growth.” One approach to this issue is for teachers who want students to enjoy reading to let them select their own material from a list of grade-appropriate choices. This gives the students moderate choice without risk of jeopardizing learning. To encourage them to read what they enjoy, teachers can permit students to nominate new material for the list.
A better way to help these kids develop their reading skills is to assign them books that the teachers have already read. This ensures the teacher’s ability to guide their students down the right path. Another way to aid students is to teach them how to close read. Close reading is a form of reading in which the reader carefully analyzes a text in order to gain maximum comprehension from it. It shows kids how to truly read a text, rather than just skimming through it. It is an essential skill for all people, and should be juiced in classrooms of all levels for its benefits.
The best way to teach these students how to properly close read is to assign them short, nonfiction texts that challenge their ability to analyze, comprehend, and make inferences. Both the teacher and the student should analyze a reading passage and examine it for details, some of which include understanding how the text works, the author’s message, providing text evidence to support thoughts and predictions the reader is developing, and making connections between the reader and the text itself (Shanahan, 2012). As long as these methods are carried out properly, students will have the reading skills necessary to make them more successful and intelligent.
Strauss, V. (2014, September 08). Why kids should choose their own books to read in school. Retrieved March 17, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/08/why-kids-should-choose-their-own-books-to-read-in-school/?utm_term=.a1d60b23343c
Pennington Publishing Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2018, from http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/reading/why-sustained-silent-reading-ssr-doesnt-work/
Dakin, C. (2013). The Effects of Comprehension Through Close Reading (Unpublished masters thesis). St. John Fisher College.
Shanahan, T. (2012). What is close reading? Retrieved from