There have been several posts lately on a forum I belong to concerning why kids don't read. Several people lay the blame at the feet of teachers who assign "boring" books and kill the love of reading. While I can't defend all teachers and certainly recognize the type, I have to say a few words about the other end of that spectrum.

There were teachers who read to me/us all through elementary, who made books seem as fascinating as I discovered them to be once I could read them myself. I recall the Little House on the Prairie books, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and many others, usually read in segments right after lunch recess. I still vividly recall each teacher's voice and way of reading with the expression and excitement that we were as yet too young to put into our own decoding efforts. I now understand that they carefully chose an interesting spot for each day's stopping point.

What were they doing? Getting thirty-odd little bodies to stop wiggling for a few minutes, yes. But they were also planting a love of the word, not just the single words we were learning slowly, day by day, but the strung-together words that make a place or a person come alive in your head. I knew what Laura Ingalls looked like long before they showed her to me on television, and I paid better attention to geography lessons after we traced that little wooden canoe's path down the St. Lawrence seaway.

Those teachers created in me the desire to read for myself: to read faster, more widely, and with a developing sense of what I like. Some of them weren't particularly great teachers, not even great people. But they did their job.

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