Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pleasure Reading in the World Language Classroom - a teacher's guide to reading by Mike Peto

Calling all world language teachers: 
What are your thoughts and understanding on the power of reading for vocabulary growth and to boost language acquisition? Do you have a current SSR (sustained silent reading) or FVR (free voluntary reading) program or are you ready to implement one? Do you have the key elements in place to move your students from reading in the target language to becoming lifelong readers that enjoy reading? Are you curious how other world language teachers are supporting students in their reading language journeys?

If you answered yes, or even maybe, to any of the above questions, then I'd like to recommend a book that will answer your questions and challenge you to rethink your reading program.    

I recently finished reading Mike Peto's newest book, Pleasure Reading in the World Language Classroom. This book is a must read for teachers that want to build a successful reading program, for those that want to improve their current reading program, and for those that want to increase the amount of reading their students do in the target language in every class period, every day. Who doesn't want that for their students? So, in other words, Pleasure Reading in the World Language Classroom is a must read for ALL world language teachers!

Mike shares his insight and personal experiences on how to create a reading program in the world language classroom that encourages students to become lifelong readers and eventually bring students to the realization that they ENJOY reading! This book is packed full of research on pleasure reading, steps to prepare students to read independently, how to select and display reading materials for a classroom library, assisting students and heritage learners in selecting reading materials, and perspectives on accountability and assessment.

Mike's style of writing is clear, straight-forward, and unapologetic. Mike is not content to continue teaching "status quo" when the results do not meet the mark that Mike expects. You will need to read the book with an open mind and a willingness to look at reading, and teaching a language in general, from different perspectives. However similar or different your teaching may be to Mike's, it will be evident that he is sincerely searching for what is best for his students in their language journey and wants to share his successes in the classroom with others in this book.

Mike begins his book describing how teachers can prepare students for a successful reading program through the creation and discussion of class-created stories or by the teacher telling the class about a remarkable person or cultural tidbit in the target language, (such as Mike Peto's Maravillas texts). These discussions and presentations are followed by reading. In this manner, Mike demonstrates how teachers can lay a foundation for student success in reading at the earliest levels before students open their first novel, and through all levels of language instruction.

In relation to reading novels, Mike makes a clear distinction between reading a class novel and independent reading of novels and other texts, a.k.a. pleasure reading. The pillars of pleasure reading are "student choice, little or no assessment, and giving students the ability to abandon the text."  Mike writes that there is a place for reading novels as a class, but he strongly places more importance on pleasure reading, (independent reading) and providing time for students to chose and read their own texts. He reminds teachers that read class novels with students to choose a book that doesn't require an extreme amount of scaffolding and support from the teacher to understand the text. Likewise, he cautions teachers to not commit "readicide" by requiring students to complete activities for each chapter of the novels.

Tina Hargaden weighs in on pleasure reading in several sections of the book that she wrote in which she shares her experience in areas such as "Differentiation and Equity", "Keeping Cool when Students aren't Reading", and "Reading Partnerships and Book Clubs Provide Structure for Independent Reading".  

I predict that Pleasure Reading in the World Language Classroom is a book that teachers will read many times as they continue to glean information on reading from Mike's suggestions and experiences. I downloaded my copy of the book and it is now marked with highlighting and underlines and notes in the margin to make it easier for me to refer to and reread in the future.  

Personally, reading this book has challenged me to reflect on my current reading program, and to remain committed to providing the best possible reading experience for my students, even when it may require some tweaking to my current reading program. 

You can download the ebook directly from the author at:

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