A Little Bit Better


While I wanted to make new year’s reading resolutions with my students, I didn’t feel like I was ready to today. I’m not talking about the kinds of resolutions like “I will read 40 books this year.” I wanted them to set goals- what are you having trouble with as a reader? And, how will you get better? Then I realized that I ask these sorts of questions at the end of almost every individual conference I do with the students. 

So I left that subject aside and we dug in to one of our read alouds for today- Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller. It’s a story about a squirrel who learns what a resolution is and goes around to different animals trying to figure out what her resolution should be. Meanwhile, with each animal she encounters, she finds a way to help them, and at the end of the book the animals help Squirrel realize that her resolution is helping other people. 

Within the first page of the book, I said “Who can tell us what a resolution is?” The group was off to a good start, but we used the book to help us figure out a clearer definition. We then started talking about what kinds of resolutions people make- losing weight, helping more people, saving more money, etc.

And then one of my boys chimed in, “Shouldn’t we all make a resolution to read more?” What struck me was not the fact that he wanted to make a reading resolution, but more so that he started it with the words, “Shouldn’t we all?” 

I had my usual “probe” ready- and I said “And tell me why you think that?”

And he went on to explain that the more you read the more you get at it, and if everyone made a resolution to read more, they’d all get a little bit better.

That’s pretty profound for a first grader. It’s something I’ve been drilling in their heads for the last four and a half months. 

As Jim Trelease says- the cycle of pleasure reading is like biking- the more you do it, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the more you like it. The more you like it, the more you do it. And so on.

We won’t set formal reading resolutions- we’ll just keep encouraging each other to read more. And as we read more, we’ll get better at it. And the better we get at it, the more pleasurable it will become. 

It offers its own rewards. 

So instead of resolutions, we will together as a class work on encouraging each other to do it more- offering recommendations, sharing books, and the like.  We’re starting the cycle off right. And I hope that if the cycle is strong enough, it will move them far beyond first grade. 


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