Using my love of reading to reach struggling readers

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I am a junior majoring in early childhood education and endorsed in 5th and 6th grade literacy and social studies, and I love to read. I can explore endless ideas, perspectives, places, and realities in the pages of a good book. During my education at JBU, I've learned how to strategically use my love of reading to reach struggling readers.

Last semester, I took Children's Literature and learned so much about the importance of literature and its influence in the lives and thinking of young children. My classmates and I were assigned the task of reading 75+ children's books and were asked to think critically about each and how they could apply to the learning of our future students. Needless to say, it was challenging and a daunting task at first, but I learned how to evaluate a text and be intentional about the things being communicated to children. I also learned how to help students think about, within, and beyond a text. As I continued to take this class, my love of reading deepened and I explored new ways to get children excited and actively reading.

This semester, I have the incredible opportunity to meet with a small 4th grade literacy group of six students once a week. I was placed in a gender-specific class and when I first met with my six girls, I was eager to use my new literacy knowledge. My group of girls are bright and witty, but struggle in their reading. During our first meeting, they complained that the new book they had to choose was a chapter book. I tried to encourage them with a few positive comments with little success. When they pulled out their new books, however, I became much more genuine in my excitement. Their chosen book was one of my favorites from elementary school! Immediately I gushed about how I absolutely loved their book choice and couldn't wait for them to fall in love with it too. My enthusiasm caught like wild fire to my discouraged students. When we met again after their first homework reading, we discussed our favorite parts, analyzed the characters, made predictions and connections, and reviewed new vocabulary. My initially unmotivated readers had caught my eagerness and were hungry for more. When I assigned two chapters for homework, they begged for a third. They are continually excited.

My students still struggle in their reading, but I'm so excited to see how they will progress this semester. The want to read is now there and with the wonderful literacy education I've received at JBU, I have the tools and strategies to effectively strengthen their weaknesses and further develop their strengths.

Want to pass on your love of education? Consider earning your bachelor's or master's degree at John Brown University. Find out more at

Kati Watkins

Kati Watkins
Early Childhood Education major

Blog HomePosted By: Kati Watkins - 3/12/14 7:58 PM

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