Introduction to Reader Identity
“I want my students to get to know each other as readers and friends so that social networks around reading may develop. We spend a few of these early days discovering (or creating) our reading identities and deciding what we need in our classroom to support each of us as readers."
- Kathy Collins
Students’ personal perceptions are affected by their attitudes, beliefs about reading, and interests. Social and historical values and expectations, both known and unknown, also influence their comprehension of texts. These perceptions help teachers to understand how individuals socially situate the act of reading and whether they have an identity as a reader: How is time spent reading? Who is involved in conversations about reading? The importance of reading and the sense of one’s ability to read will affect the choices students make in regard to reading, including types and time of reading.
Interviews, surveys, personal reading histories, inventories, & observations are some ways that teachers can document students’ personal perceptions, attitudes, and interests. Teachers can construct their own interviews or use Burkes’ Reading Interview (Goodman, Watson, & Burke, 1987). Rhodes and Dudley-Marling (1996) also emphasize the particular importance for at-risk readers to gain insight into their own beliefs and perceptions of the reading process and their interactions with this process. Surveys and personal reading histories document experiences in and attitudes toward reading, reading material preferences, and literacy behaviors (Braunger & Lewis, 2006).
A READER IDENTITY
1. What is a good reader?
Readers we know
Think about someone you know who loves to read. What do you know about that person as a reader? (have a library card, have a favorite author, talk and write about what they’ve read, read every day, use strategies to be a better readers, read to learn ,etc.)
Where do they read? (in bed, under a tree, on the porch, on an airplane, in school, in a car)
2. Who are we as readers?
- Books and authors we love: We will learn to know more about each other as readers by sharing books we already know and love.
- Favorite reading memory: “What is your best ever reading moment? When did reading feel good for you?” Student can do a quick sketch of this time and share it with a peer.
- Favorite reading spot at home: Students sketch or bring a photo of themselves in their home reading spot (disposable camera?)
- Reading is important in my life: Students reflect and articulate why reading is a significant, valuable part of their lives.
3. What do good readers read?
- Reading Interest Survey
- Peer interviews
- Home questionnaire/parent survey (Use a “getting to know your child” take home information page to encourage parents to share)