Recently, my students had to write a district writing prompt as a post assessment to our persuasion unit. The students had the choice of a couple different prompts. Many of them chose the following prompt:
“The fifth grade teachers are trying to decide how to teach reading next year. Some teachers believe students should continue to choose the books they want to read, while other teachers believe the teachers should choose the books that the students have to read. Write a letter to the fifth grade teachers stating your opinion on this idea. Support your opinion with reasons and information.”
When I handed this out to the students, one student said, “Mr. Lewis, you always help us choose books to read. Without your help, I wouldn’t have found several books this year.” Another student chimed in and said, “I like the books you choose for me. I wasn’t a big fan of reading before you gave me a graphic novel at the beginning of the year!” I told the students that there’s a big difference between me helping them choose a book and me telling them what they have to read. I told them that I’ve never told them to read something, but have given all of them many suggestions to choose from.
Every student who chose this prompt supported letting students choose their own books to read. Here are some quotes from their letters.
“If your teacher always picks the books you have to read, you won’t learn how to find books you like to read when you grow up.” Henry
“Choosing books makes kids enthusiastic about reading.”Abigail
“Kids think certain books look good, but we may not get to read it if our teacher didn’t think it was a good book for us. If this was the case, we’d miss out on a lot of good books.” Danielle
“The more freedom kids have in choosing books, the more willing kids would be to experiment with different books.” Abigail
“Reading horrible book after horrible book that our teacher makes us read will make us hate reading.” Danielle
“Many kids and adults don’t like to be forced to read something they aren’t interested in.” Abigail
“Some teachers think their students will like a book because the teacher liked it. It doesn’t always happen that way.” Meghan
“Reading books you choose is like running through the sunset in slow motion with happy and slightly dramatic music playing in the background.” Jacklyn
This prompt took a couple days for the students to complete. When one student passed her work in she said it was hard to write about reading without having as much reading time in class as we usually have!