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How to get kids excited about reading: A student and teacher’s perspective

Andrea Ramos, eighth grade student at Kelly Elementary School
My favorite hobby has become reading and writing. English is not my best subject, but I do pretty well in it. The first time I got hooked on a book was the summer before seventh grade.

I went to the library and was walking aimlessly through the aisles when I noticed they were having a book sale. After walking in with my sister, the first book that caught my eye was Jessica Clues’ “A Shadow Bright and Burning.” After having read that book and gone through an emotional rollercoaster with it, I bought more books and have gone to the library more often.

After having read so many books, I was inspired to write my own stories. Some I have shared with my friends and others I just keep to myself. Most of them are based on my favorite genres, which are action and fiction.

To me, books are a place where I can let my imagination go wild, where I can forget about everything in the real world and just let loose. The library is my sanctuary. I feel as safe there as I feel at home. Sometimes I even stay awake just reading on my phone or with an actual book. At the end of the day, books will always be a part of my life.

Jessica Bibbs-Fox, teacher at Kelly Elementary School

My parents, from the sharecropping Jim Crow era, birthed my siblings in the segregated South and worked their way out of the fields to become middle-class Angelenos. They instilled in me a passion for reading through an understanding of the struggle to attain that privilege and respecting the power it holds.

So I read, and I read a lot! I recognize the importance of teaching students the impact of reading on one’s life and history. Oftentimes students, much like my own school peers, are not excited to read because they haven’t been taught our history and taught to respect the power of reading.

The discourse around getting kids excited about reading often focuses on access, choice and interest. Access to materials that allow students to read books that interest them is often presented as THE solution for creating excitement about reading

Though these factors are important, I have found that when students are given historical context, provided with role models who attribute their success to reading and guided to respect disenfranchised groups’ struggle to have access to reading, students will actually become excited about it.

Providing students with these things gives reading a different role in their lives. They start to consider reading a life task that will shape their place in the larger society.

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