Although this is only my second year teaching I have had the chance to come across a lot of struggling readers who are so lucky that we have so many resources and help to make their reading successful and enjoyable. When I was a child I did not find this to be the case. Just as the students that I am coming across, I too was a struggling reader as a child and hated reading and would fake read as many of the students that struggle to read do on a daily basis. I know what you are thinking, "but you were a teacher's kid and your mom read to you all the time on a daily basis." Well, guess what? You're right and I love to listen to my parents read me stories and I could often re-tell them perfectly when they were read to me, but just like my students, that didn't help me comprehend my own reading. Today we have so much research in reading that we can usually pin point the problem and use our resources to help us correct the issues before they become detrimental.
As a young reader I can still remember that my mom would encourage me to read all of the Sunshine State books. I really shouldn't say "encourage" because it was more like she made me read them! I say made me because when you don't like reading you're definitely not going to be doing it on your own. Well what she may or may not know is that if I wasn't reading them to her or she wasn't reading them to me, then I really wasn't reading them at all because I felt like it was a waste of my time to read when I didn't understand the story that I was reading. I can say from my experience that I struggled a lot in Fluency and this made it very difficult for me to comprehend what I was reading, not to mention I could never understand and figure out the main idea. I think I struggled so hard to read the words that by the time I had decoded them all, I couldn't hold on to the story. So as I teach my students I have a lot of patience for my struggling readers because I have been there. It is not enjoyable at all. Sometimes I wonder if I learned poor phonics because I never learned how to group letters and I am a terrible speller. I figure this had something to do with my poor decoding and fluency skills. At out school now we use a QAR strategy which is a Question Answer Relationship method that I wish I had learned as a kid because that would have really helped me to comprehend and understand what I was reading. If you do not use this strategy or have never heard of it you should look into it. It really makes a difference and I have seen it first hand working with my struggling readers in my third grade class.
I would like to leave you with one more story that I remember about reading. It was such a a struggle for my mom to get me to read when I was a child and I would fight her on it all the time. So, she decided to bribe me with a beautiful doll named Molly from the American Girls Series. She told me that if I read all of the books in the series that I could have the doll. I was stoked because I just had to have that doll. I made it halfway through the first book and that was it. I never did get the doll. It is really sad when a kid won't even read for a bribe because struggling through the book and all the frustrations were not even worth trying. We now have lexiles and good fit books that help our struggling readers to find a book that is on their level so that reading can be less stressful and actually enjoyable.
Some of you may wonder if I overcame my reading deficit. I can honestly say that it has not been easy. It took a lot of practice and strategies from my mom and all of my teachers throughout the years. Although I now enjoy reading, I still sometimes find myself struggling to decode some words and having to re-read passages to make sense or understand them. Do I think that you can just grow out of a reading problem? No, but I do believe that you can use skills and practice and find books that are a good fit for you to improve your reading and make it more enjoyable. I love to read now and will often sit outside on the weekends in the sun and read a James Patterson novel. I know there is hope... because I read and I enjoy it!