Reading Chapter 2 of Gallagher’s Readicide this afternoon, and this drawing popped into the ol’ gray bean.
In this chapter, Gallagher argues that one of the best ways to promote lifelong reading habits is to offer students multiple occasions for SSR or sustained silent reading. In other words, the classroom and curriculum must be organized to provide students with the books, the time, and the place to engage in extended periods of silent reading, a practice most likely unavailable to them elsewhere in their lives.
I’ve accepted that many of my first-year students haven’t developed the time or place management skills to engage in the kind of study habits necessary for college success. Therefore, I’ve used the SSR approach in my college literature classes and found some success. This works especially well when I have taught on a MWF schedule, reserving the Friday class of 50 minutes for SSR. In one case, I had students read Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and in another, I asked students to select a novel from a list I developed and bring that book the class to read. In each case, I also assigned short response papers, and asked students to apply the response strategies we had been practicing in class to these SSR novels.
Extended periods of silent and focused reading is difficult for some at the beginning, but they soon allow themselves the attention these novels demand and deserve.