Experiential Reading: The Key to Keeping Students Engaged

“A young person who reads becomes an adult who thinks.”

At the London Book Fair, I ran across this quote at a publisher’s booth. I was impressed. I’m not sure why I was so enamored by this quote, but I can tell you that this set off a long stream of consciousness, and the thought is still rattling around in my brain today. First, I stopped off at the internet trying to see who this quote could be attributed to, and apparently, Google doesn’t know who gets the credit. I thought about my own kids and how differently they all think and, hmm, could that be why a certain bad decision was made by a certain son? And of course, I worried about the fact that my daughter and everyone else her age isn’t reading. Instead, they are watching videos on YouTube, Facetiming, and social media-hopping. I thought about how kids learn, and I wondered if kids are still reading anymore. Will the next generation be thinkers? Should I be worried? How do we keep kids reading? Can you imagine a generation of non-thinkers, continuously walking in a circle because they cannot think of a way out of the loop? (I did say this was a stream of consciousness, forgive me.)

It is clear that all the hype about the need for technology in the classroom is not just a way for vendors (which includes us) to sell more stuff to the school market. The plugged-in, always on the phone, modern student probably does need a different way to learn. I read this statistic on the McGraw Hill Education website: “90% of teachers use some type of digital resource for student instruction.” They can also be quoted as saying that “70% of teachers use videos to support instruction on a weekly basis”. And according to the ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2013, “50% of students say eBooks are important to their academic success”.  So, I guess the message is, give them an electronic book, add video and other digital material, and you will hold on to today’s modern students and, (fingers crossed), they will read.

If this were a video, we would pan left to a student holding a tablet, engrossed in an eBook with a smile on her face. Because on that tablet, she would have a full color book and within those pages, there is YouTube video inserted, links to web pages, comments from the teacher, cool images, audio clips and even her vocabulary quiz, without ever leaving her book. It’s not reading anymore, it’s experiential reading, and I think that is the type of book today’s modern students need to be held captive.

On April 23-24, we will be in New Orleans at the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Show where we will be discussing reading in the classroom, and how READynamic™ creates an environment for experiential reading. If you’re attending the convention, stop by booth #219 – we would love to hear from you about how your school is encouraging reading and creating adults who think.

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