Friday, March 4, 2011

Is Steven Layne a Belieber?

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime ReadersI honestly can't speak for Steven Layne, author of Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers, but I can speak for myself.  
And I am truly a Justin Belieber.  I realize that I'm an adult, a 30-year-old adult at that...but, as teachers, my husband and I try to keep up with all the trends and who's in and who's out according to our students.  Unless you're living under a rock, I'm guessing you have at least heard of Justin Bieber.  He's a 17 year-old singer, musician, dancer...superstar, basically - and now he's written a book.

Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever (100% Official)
Before winter break, one of my students came in with a Justin Bieber trivia book that she was jaw about dropped to the ground because it wasn't something I would expect her to read.  She shrugged and sheepishly told me she likes Justin Bieber.  Well, as I was looking through e-books on my library's website, I saw his autobiography, Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever (100% Official).  What did I do?  Of course, I put myself on the waiting list (yes, it did have a waiting list!) and when it became available I totally checked it out and I read the entire thing.  Here's what I can honestly say: while it wasn't the most amazingly well-written book, it was an honest and humble story of his life.  I understand that he's still a teenager, but I still liked reading his story and how he became famous.  What's been fun is overhearing kids talking about Bieber, being able to tell them I read the book and join in on their conversations, and talk to my student about what I learned about him.  

Steven Layne and me
Last week I was beyond excited to be able to hear Steven Layne talk for our institute day.  I love his energy for reading and got lots of great ideas from his book.  He explained that as a country we are graduating more aliterate students than illiterate students.  An aliterate reader is someone who is able to read but choses not to.  For me, that's a scary thought!  Our students are living in an "On Demand" world, so how do we get them hooked on books?  Layne asked:
"What are you doing right now that 
would really make a kid want to read?"
While we can't make kids read, he argues that we have to make kids want to interact with books.  He state that our reading instruction should be 50% skill and 50% will.  It reminds me so much of Donalyn Miller's book, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, which is the book that really got me on a roll when it comes to thinking about real-life reading and making the reading we do in school more like real-life reading for my students.

I never would have read Justin Bieber's book had my student not shown interest in him.  I'm an adamant believer that teachers should be reading books that are at their students' age level/reading level/interest level.  We need to know what books are out there so we can booktalk them and be the person students come to for their next great read.  This reminds me of Teri Lesesne's Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be.  We've got to find any book we can that gets them hooked.  From there we can offer more and more choices that build upon that book and move them up their rungs of their reader ladders.

Here's the last thing I'm going to say about Justin Bieber and his book: If his book is the book that gets a student hooked, by all means give that student the book, read the book yourself, talk about the book, love the book...and then find the next book that keeps them hooked.  You can do it, I Beliebe in you!

Have you read Bieber's book?  What about another book that you read because your students or kids loved it so much?


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