Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When They Quit All the Books


"I just don't like reading all that much," he said, as he put another book back on the shelf.

We'd talked about books: sports books (he likes to read about football and basketball, but rejected every Tim Green or Mike Lupica choice.)  He finally settled on The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, a wonderful book written in verse.

He'd liked that one.  But had no interest in any other of Alexander's books.  So, we were right back to where we'd started from.

I had already spent more time with this young man, talking about books than with almost anyone else.  Sigh.

Another student overheard us and recommended Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart.  That student and I agreed that it had been hard to put down.  "Okay," said the kid, "I'll give it a try."

The next day, at the library, he was off looking for books again.

"Why aren't you reading Scar Island?" I asked.

"I didn't like it."

"How much of it did you read?"

"Not much."

Now, I have to admit.  At this point, I was angry.  I'd spent a lot of time with this kid.  So I made him come back to where he was sitting, and I quietly read him the first chapter.  He was pumped and said he'd keep reading it, that it sounded good.

The next day, he told me that he'd quit the book.

And it was on that day that I went home and read Pernille Ripp's thoughtful post, "When They Abandon Every Single Book" where she addressed this very challenge.

She reminded me that new habits take time.  That we need to keep our emotions out of the equation and just keep showing these kids great books.

I'm trying, Pernille!  I really am!

He's reading an I Survived book, and I'm realizing (he's since admitted) that longer books scare him.  That's another good piece of information for my toolkit.

Thanks, Pernille, for reminding me that habits (mine included!) take a while to change.

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