This school year I’ve been working with 114 juniors. They are smart, focused, positive, respectful, and busy, busy, busy. Their after-school hours are devoured by sports, clubs, teams, activities, jobs, and hands-on family obligations.
As readers, some of these students are already voracious. Others haven’t read much in the last few months, and some haven’t read much for several years.
As we all work together to improve everyone’s reading life, we discuss practical aspects of being a reader. For example, we talk about when to abandon a book, when the best part of a book is most likely to happen, and the importance of having a next book in mind.
We read self-selected books for fifteen minutes in every class, but one of the obstacles to developing richer reading lives for these juniors is finding time to read outside of class. With that in mind, I recently reminded them that we make time for what we value. Then I asked them to reply to this:
Think about your typical day. Regardless of how much time you currently spend reading each day, how can you make more time for reading? Where can you find five, ten, fifteen minutes or more in your schedule to read a few more pages? List your ideas, whether they are obvious or wacky.
The 114 juniors responded wonderfully. Presented in order and without judgement, here are The Top Twenty Ways Busy Juniors Can Find More Time to Read!
1. Before going to sleep
2. In study hall
3. During lunch
4. Before school
5. During down-time in class—for example, after finishing a test
6. While eating dinner
7. On the bus
8. Right away when getting home from school
9. In the bathroom
10. After homework
11. Instead of TV or video games
12. During passing periods
13. Instead of phone or social media
14. Find a quiet place
15. After practice
16. While waiting
17. In the bath
18. When bored
19. While walking somewhere
20. (Tie) After work / During other classes
While those were the top ideas, some interesting “outlier” responses showed up too. Here they are, in the students’ own words:
“Drop classes so you can read.”
“Don’t do other homework.”
“While brushing my teeth”
“You can read with friends.”
“In the shower”
“Read two books at once, one for school and one for home.”
As we formulate expectations for our students about reading or homework in general, we should also keep in mind that home environments vary in terms of their friendliness toward reading: “People tell me to do homework and read at home, but home is an uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden environment that makes it impossible for me to do that.”
I hope you enjoyed the lists, but you can help us learn! What are your favorite times and ways to give yourself a few more minutes to read in a busy day?