Creating a Culture of Reading in the Middle School
Written by Erin Dixon, Middle School Dean of Faculty and Instruction
Our middle school building is full of back to school energy and excitement, and once again, we have started our year with a focus on independent reading. As educators, we know the value of being a lifelong reader; not only does it build your knowledge base in vocabulary, but it also builds your sense of empathy and widens your perspective.
During the middle school years, priorities shift, and students often do not have as much time to read independently. For these reasons, over the years, we have worked hard to build our culture of independent reading. Many of our middle school English teachers will begin the year by inviting their students to think about and discuss the importance of developing a love and habit of reading. For example, in one 8th-grade English class, students came up with the following responses to this prompt:
“connecting to history, stimulating creativity, escaping reality, and gaining understandings through others’ experiences.”
Students regularly visit our library to pick out books that they find most interesting, and students are always required to have an independent reading book or class novel in English. Our English teachers give students time during class to read and enjoy their books and provide students with a variety of opportunities to share what they are reading. Finally, our culture of reading doesn’t stop with our students; our faculty and staff love to read, too. Our Middle School English Department provides laminated “I’m reading…” signs for teachers and staff to post their current selections on their classroom and office doors. Visitors to the middle school will notice these signs with books ranging from professional reads like Grading for Equity to young adult novels like the Divergent series to the latest James Patterson release. These signs speak to our commitment to continuing and celebrating our love of reading.