I recently did a post about speakers I’ve seen at various conferences and elsewhere. In the post, I said it was the work version of another list I’d done about a more personal subject – a list of bands I’ve seen.
But I think the reality is that the list was inspired by something else. I attended the 2011 WILU conference here in Regina and easily the best presenter was David Bouchard who I was fortunate to see in both a breakout session and as the endnote speaker. (In fact, he wasn’t just the best at that conference – he’s a contender for best speaker I’ve ever heard!)
He has many theories and thoughts he expounded on but one was of particular note. He said that everyone needs a book pusher, someone that gets you hooked on books. He’s fortunate that his pusher is the head of the BC School Librarians Association and he tells in hilarious detail how this woman got him hooked and then has continued to supply him with books over the years.
Another of his theories is that you need three things to create a reader:
I talk to educators all the time, as I do with parents, about the three things a child needs to become a reader. The first thing they need is time – they’ll read when they’re ready. Don’t try to get them reading before they’re ready. We have a way of trying to force our kids to read while they simply want to be in the playground – “I want to play in the sandbox” – “No, you have to read”. Maria Montessori was very clear in saying that reading is as natural a process as walking and talking. A child will walk when they’re ready, talk when they’re ready and they’ll read when they’re ready.
The other thing I tell teachers is that kids need a role model: we have to get our seniors and our elders reading – and don’t think for a second your kids are going to read if it’s not a priority in your communities and in your schools. Teachers, you should have silent reading in your schools, not so your kids can read but so they can see you, their hero, reading.
And kids need books that are accessible and also meaningful to them, books in which they can see themselves. For a long time, we didn’t have those books, but they’re now starting to appear – so I say to teachers, “Your job is to go find these books and make them accessible to your kids – and in the meantime, let me show you 25 of them!”