In the book Pose, Wobble, Flow (2015), Garcia & O’Donnell state that “To see themselves as readers, students must also have opportunities to make decisions about what they will read”. This is especially true in the world language classroom. We don’t want to turn students away from reading in the target language just because we make them read something they aren’t interested in. To acquire language, students must read in the target language. Stephen Krashen says that “people acquiring a second language have the best chance for success through reading” (Stolz, 2017). To become lifelong readers, students have to find the joy in reading, and that comes with finding compelling books.
Just this week I introduced free reading to my Spanish 1 students. I gave short “book talks” about several books I thought they’d find interesting, and then let them choose which books they’d like to explore first. So many of them went straight for La clase de confesiones by A.C. Quintero because of its relevancy to their lives. The book is about a boy in Spanish class with a crush on his classmate, so the book could easily be about my students themselves! However, that type of comic-reality isn’t appealing to all my students. Some went for an adventure story, La isla más peligrosa by John Sifert, and others went for a cute animal story, El capibara con botas by Mira Canion. The importance here is choice. If I made all my students read the same book (which I just did), they wouldn’t enjoy it the same way they would if they chose a book interesting to them (spoiler alert – they preferred their choice of book).
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with whole-class novels. There is definitely a time and place for them, and they provide great class discussions and opportunities to explore culture. However, I am moving away from overloading my students with whole-class novels (I may just do 2 a year) and towards a stronger FVR (free voluntary reading) program. Implementing FVR is just one step towards becoming a more culturally-responsive educator.
Canion, M. (2016). El capibara con botas. Mira Canion.
Garcia, A. & O’Donnell-Allen, C. (2015). Pose, Wobble, Flow. Teacher College Press, Columbia University.
Quintero, A. C. (2017). La clase de confesiones. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Sifert, J. (2018). La isla más peligrosa. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Stolz, C. (2017, September 18). Second Language Acquisition Quotes. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://tprsquestionsandanswers.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/second-language-acquisition-quotes/