Readicide is defined as, “the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices often found in schools.” I fear I was a Readicide practitioner in my early years of teaching, but I am now trying to recover and adopt practices suggested in Kelly Gallagher’s book Readicide.
Gallagher points to a crisis in America’s schools that we experience in our classrooms at Wamogo. Our students do not read well; our test scores (recently released) are low. My English Department members hear all the time, “I hate to read” or “This book is too hard” or “I don’t have time.”
Readicide (160 pages) was published by Stenhouse Publishers in 2009 and has been influential in many discussion on educational reform. Gallagher recognizes several factors have contributed to the reading crisis. One of these factors he discusses under the heading “There is a Dearth of Interesting Reading Materials in Our Schools.” In this section, Gallagher poses the following questions:|
- Shouldn’t schools be the places where students interact with interesting books?
- Shouldn’t the faculty have on-going, laser-like commitment to put good books in our students’ hands?
- Shouldn’t this be a front-burner issue at all times?
Gallagher advocates for interesting materials saying, “Let me be clear: if we have any chance at developing a reading habit in our students, they must be immersed in a K-12 ‘book flood’-a term coined by researcher Warwick Elley (1991). Students must have ready access to a wide range of reading materials. This goal should be the priority of every faculty….We must start all discussions about the state of reading on our campuses with a simple, direct question: do our students have ample access to high interest reading-materials?”
I know that the increase of titles I have purchased in the secondary market is a step in the right direction. In two years, English Department members have added over 200 titles to our collection; some in small sets of three copies and other sets with as many as 60 copies. We will continue to teach “core texts”, but we offer independent reading books as well. We organized titles by theme and now let a student choose which book he or she would like to read. We have noted that our students are more enthused -and therefore more likely to finish – when they select a text. We now organize literature circles around student book choice….and we are offering more and more choice in a cost-effective way by using used books. We are changing how we teach and what we teach in order to stop the practice of readicide. We hope that others will too!