How to Create a Reader?

(Things have been a little quiet around here lately, huh? Yeah, some extra, unexpected stuff happened last week. But things are coming closer to normal now.)

Last week, a fifth grade girl came into the library after school. She’s one of my “regulars.” I’ve often suspected she comes more for the chats than the books. She’s nice, but needy. A little lost in a big family and a big school. One you wonder about how she’ll fare in middle school. She could go either way.

After a few minutes, she popped her head up from the shelves. “Mrs. Wojahn, did I tell you that I’m an Advanced Reader?” She said it with such pride and authority I could hear the capital letters.

“Why, no. But I’m not surprised. You’re such a big reader.”

She grinned. “Yes, I just found out. My mom told me last night that my teacher said I was at parent/teacher conferences. And now, my mom is so happy, she’s taking me to the bookstore for more books!”

I smiled at her. She was so excited. And, truth be told, I had already heard about her reading test scores. Her beginning of the year evaluation was kind of a surprise to everyone–she’s never scored like that before. And I admit, I have often wondered how much she actually read of all the books she checked out. But watching her there, I thought, does it matter if she really is an Advanced Reader or if she just made lucky guesses on the test? I could see–her expectations for herself had changed. And so had her mom’s. And her teacher’s. And how much would all that affect her as a reader? As a learner?

Thinking about that, made me wonder. What if we could tell every student (all in the strictest confidence, of course ;-) ) that they were, each and every one of them, an Advanced Reader. Better than all the rest. Would it make a difference?