Book Love by Penny Kittle

Featured image by Hannah Higdon.

I really enjoy reading Penny Kittle’s Book Love, and I believe that every future English teacher should read it. There is something wrong with the way we try to encourage students to read in our classrooms. We push hard books on them with time limits and assignments. Many of these old techniques tend not only to make students cheat when it comes to class work, but it also makes students have a hatred for reading. Something has to change. Penny Kittle presents great ways to harbor a love of reading in students, and presents great ways to make your students life-long learners.

Penny Kittle states that students should be reading and writing more than they should be listening to her talk. I thoroughly agree with this statement. Every English classroom should include more reading and writing by the students than lectures from the teachers. The only way students can become good readers is to practice how to read. The only way that students can become good writers is to read a lot of books and practice their own writing. I agree with Kittle when she says that students want to read as long as we let them. I believe allowing students to set reasonable goals for their own reading (like Kittle illustrates in chapter 3) helps students to analyze their own reading abilities and grow their reading abilities. The English classroom should really revolve around the students’ reading and writing.

Kittle illustrates that some students are going to be hesitant to read due to their past experiences with reading where they either did not comprehend the text or did not find interest in the text. Kittle states that even the most reluctant readers can come to love reading when they find books that they are interested in. My question is: why not encourage our students to read anything, as long as they are reading? Is that not better than them cheating their way through the classics that are assigned? Is that not better than them not reading another book after high school? English teachers should be focusing on creating a love for the English language and for stories in their students.

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6 thoughts on “Book Love by Penny Kittle

    1. Hopefully parents keep an open mind when a teacher tries innovative ways to make learning, reading, and interacting a positive experience. But I’m afraid there will probably be those parents who challenge her style and try to ban it for the old standard way of teaching they are used to. We’ll see.

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  1. You make a very good point about students cheating due to time constraints and difficulties. I was considered to be an avid reader and a top-notch student, but even I used underhanded means to get through those classes. Not only does this undermine a student’s reading, but it also undermines the integrity of their work in all of their classes, not just English. Good post!

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  2. I was a future college English major and I have a PhD in 18th century British Lit so obviously I like old books, but even I cheated my way through certain high school reading assignments. I read the Sparks Notes (well, the Cliffs Notes–the 80s version of Sparks Notes!) version of so much assigned reading! I agree with the points you make here: our goal has to be to grow literate readers, not to expose students to certain books–or at least not unless we have clear goals in mind.

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    1. Even lovers of classics will not like a book if it is above their reading level. People want to be challenged by a book a little bit, but they do not want to have to work in order to read. I may have Spark Noted my way through a few chapters of The Red Badge of Courage.

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