The Lifelong Love of Reading, Developed in the Classroom & at Home

by Dr. Sumit Bangia, Supervisor of Humanities

A love for reading is often cited as one of the most critical characteristics of successful individuals. Reading encourages innovation and nurtures relationships while deepening the reader’s understanding of the world and expanding his or her perspective. One of the most crucial aspects of our mission in the Verona School District is to foster a love of reading in our students.

These statistics are the result of a focused vision by our leadership team, supported by our Board of Education, to remove barriers to rigorous coursework with a focus on well developed and implemented curriculum. Our progress is a testament to an incredible group of talented teachers providing highly engaging, quality instruction. Verona is also supported by a tremendous parent community and highly motivated students who rise to the level of expectation set for them.

Mrs. Sue Conlon and Mrs. Dara Chamma, 5th teach­ers at HB Whitehorne Middle School have cultivated model reading communities in their classrooms that uphold these practices. A library is conveniently located in each of their classrooms. This allows students to regularly shop for books, which span a range of genres, topics and reading levels. Students have access to books that appeal to their varied interests and reading abilities. When we empower students to choose their own books, they are not only more likely to finish reading the books they chose, but they’re also more likely to continue reading in the future.

In addition to providing access to books and allowing student choice for book selection, Mrs. Conlon and Mrs. Chamma have dedicated classroom time for students to read. Independent reading time (IRT) is an integral component of their classrooms. Students not only read their books during IRT but also engage in a variety of collaborative reading opportunities. These include, but are not limited to, book clubs and partnerships. Both strategies allow students to discuss and analyze books, which promotes dialogue, reflection and, in some cases, debate. These interactions enhance comprehension by encouraging students to dive deeper into the text.

Mrs. Conlon and Mrs. Chamma also use IRT to meet with students to provide targeted instruction that is differentiated for each individual’s needs. They utilize multiple instructional strategies, including one to one student conferences and group based instruction, such as guided reading groups and strategy groups. Both group settings help students develop effective techniques to read increasingly challenging texts.

The results of their efforts have been positive in regard to student performance and response. Mrs. Chamma and Mrs. Conlon shared that students have made tremendous strides in not only their reading compre­hension and fluency, but also in their attitude toward reading. Enthusiasm for reading was contagious in both classrooms. Mrs. Conlon stated, “Students feel support­ed and encouraged in my classroom. They feel they are a part of a community. This is especially important as students transition to middle school. It feels great to be able to provide this for my students’.’ Mrs. Chamma added, “Reading is their favorite time in the school day and they look forward to reading and discussing their books with both their classmates and me. This is what teaching is all about!” One student shared, “Mrs. Chamma, you have the best books!”

It is important to remember that reading must be promoted and extended into the home and community. Encourage your child to read by visiting the town library and checking out books together on a regular basis. Incorporate reading time into your daily routine to show your child that, despite your hectic schedule, reading is a priority. Most importantly, read to your child. It is only when students are continuously stimulated beyond the classroom setting that they are able to become truly successful and lifelong readers.

Click here to read more articles in the Verona Public Schools Magazine 2016-2017 Edition.