After a flurry of research and completing my final paper for my M. Ed, one may think that it’s all over with the inquiry into reluctant readers, boys reading etc. etc. But it’s not. Far from it in fact. I’ve been a little distracted with the library renovation, a series of unfortunate events with library assistants having close encounters with pregnancy and injuries leading to somewhat more of a day to day burden on my shoulders etc. etc (it’s called “life” I keep reminding myself). But anyway, we carry on unabated with our BWB club (Blokes with Books) and you can come and hear me at the AFCC if you’d like to find out more!
Tim, the teacher leading the club and I had some conversations at the end of last year about how we needed to take things up a notch and really go deeper into the whole reading thing. The question of course is how do you make sure it’s still fun, that they still are committed, while deepening and expanding what they’re reading? We’re talking about 11/12 year old boys after all, and while my dry academic papers sound all unemotional and cool the truth is far from it. We have spats and have to have firm words about “it’s just a game” and “if you don’t quit fighting about the chairs / beanbags / who got the book first, you will have to stop coming for a while” etc. etc.
But something special has been happening in the two weeks since we’ve been back. Sometimes you just get so caught unawares that you’re not recording or documenting and now I feel I need to document it. Last week our counsellor (who’s joined our team) was sharing how he’d seen an interview with Jamie Oliver about the fact that he’d read his first book at age 38. The boys were actually incredulous. And then a couple started spontaneously sharing how before BWB club they’d never finished a book either, or if they did it was just a quick and easy book and how much more they’re reading now and how it takes practice and perseverance. Note – it also takes courage for a boy this age to come out and say these things to his peers.
This week we reflected on Obama’s reading list and how he’d said it helped calm and focus him in times of stress. And again, a couple of boys put their hands up and said how reading helped them calm down, when they were angry or upset.
So, what’s new. Right now I’m trying to drill into every student at school the necessity of having a “what’s next” list – either a mental list or a physical list or a pile of books that are the “books in waiting”. And the great thing about a club like this is that we can try things out on them and see how effective they are.
This week we used Leigh Collazo’s Genre Personality test which you can purchase from TPT (a $5 well spent). My assistants and I spend quite a bit of time this week updating the bookmarks in order to make the book suggestions specific to our library. The boys did the quiz during the BWB session on Friday and they really enjoyed doing it. It was fun and light-hearted and we kept emphasizing that there was no right or wrong answer and it wasn’t scientific. After they’d tallied up I made a spreadsheet of the top 3 categories of each boy, and as we read out the descriptions there were cries of “yes, that’s exactly how I am” and “I agree” and “yes!” With their permission we then displayed the results. Most were evenly spread between A, (questioner); B (Escapist) and C (Innovator) with surprisingly few G’s (class clown) which is what I would have expected. Since that took up most of the hour we have with them – we didn’t get around to sharing the bookmarks, and
only introduced the “on deck” spreadsheet to help them keep track of their “what’s next” list – that’s next week’s work.