Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read? (Powell-Brown, 2003) not only proposed this specific question in the article, but also provided an answer. According to Powell-Brown (2003), she believed that teachers are role models for students, and that their passion for reading is very influential. Powell-Brown stated, “Teachers who have a passion for reading are role models and literacy spark plugs for students. If we want to be the best teachers we can be, we must demonstrate our own passion for reading” (2003, p. 288). The article mentioned several suggestions to help motivate children to read. These suggestions included: find what interests/excites the child; teacher-model excitement/passion for reading; ask for family support; read aloud daily; give choices when possible; and remind students that reading can be a recreational activity.
Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self: A response to Ann Powell-Brown (Gomez, 2005) discussed reasoning behind why teachers who did not love to read may be literacy teachers. Her answer to this question was one that I find simple and honest – they understand the importance of literacy, and so they choose to become literacy educators. While teachers are helping students to find their literate selves, teachers are often times reconciled with their personal literate self, which is sometimes lost along the way.
The Peter Effect: Reading habits and attitudes of preservice teachers (Applegate & Applegate, 2004) discussed the influence that a teacher’s habits and attitudes could have on students. A pilot study was conducted to determine whether prospective teachers are enthusiastic or unenthusiastic readers. The results showed that 54.3% of participants were unenthusiastic readers. A follow-up study was conducted, and the amount of unenthusiastic readers decreased to 48.4%, but this is still an alarming amount. The open-ended portion of the study perhaps allowed more insight into the situation. Many participants commented that the teachers did not make reading interesting and that they struggled with reading. 17 of 18 participants commented that their teacher’s attitudes were very obvious during instruction, and that they had a negative attitude. 22 students commented that their attitudes had changed towards reading because of their experience in college, which is fantastic.
I believe that it is very important to be great role models for students, and to really show your love for reading, but I do believe that you can be an effective literacy teacher if you do not love reading. Children are very influential, so as teachers, it is important that we are very careful when saying or doing things in class. I have always been a student who is a good reader, but I have never been a recreational reader – I would be labeled as an unenthusiastic reader. I read what is required for work, school, and social activities, but yet I realize the value of literacy, which is what led me to this program initially. I am very passionate about reading aloud to my students, reading with my students, and helping them grow as literate individuals, and I believe that passion shows every day when I set foot into the classroom. The fact that I do not always carry a book with me to read in my spare time does not make me an ineffective teacher, and a teacher who is always reading in her spare time isn’t going to necessarily be an effective teacher. There are many more contributing factors.
Applegate, A. J., & Applegate, M. (2004). The Peter Effect: Reading habits and attitudes of preservice teachers. Reading Teacher, 57(6), 554-563.
Gomez, K. (2005). Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self: A response to Ann Powell-Brown. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(2), 92-96.
Powell-Brown, A. (2003). Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read?. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(4), 284-288.