Let kids read by themselves

In an LA Times letter to the editor, a former teacher advocates for letting kids read. This is a battle I’m going through myself right now. I have four kids — two read, two don’t. The youngest is in eighth grade and has yet to be assigned a book to read in his English class. IN HIS ENGLISH CLASS. When I approached the teacher to ask why it was January and they hadn’t yet read a book, I was first told that they in fact ARE reading a book. The Hunger Games. I checked with my boy. Nope, the book is being read aloud to them. Sometimes by the teacher, sometimes by a YouTube video of someone else reading the text. When I responded that this is in fact NOT reading a book, it’s passively listening (and we all know how well 13-year-old listen, esp during distance learning) to a book, I got a mishmash answer about learning outcomes and what amounts to a lowest common denominator. The entire system is being chipped away to create a future full of stupid people who are easy to fool into doing the bidding of big business. (cf Ottawa truckers). Anyway, I dig this teacher’s mojo.

To the editor: As a longtime teacher of kids having difficulty in school, I’m worried about The Times’ description of new L.A. Unified School District Supt. Alberto Carvalho as a leader “acutely focused on testing and other data to improve school and student performance.”

I just worry about how much of that “other data” involves how much time kids spend freely reading books of their choice.

My class was grouped as the “lowest scorers” in third grade. We started the day with an hour of silent reading. The kids chose the books to read. As a teacher, I showed them lots of possibilities for good reading.

And I told my talkative principal, “No interruptions, please.” The kids, who’d probably never seen an adult reading, saw me read during that hour.

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