Reading for Enjoyment and Personal Development (1967)

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Turning kids into passionate readers, particularly through less traditional works that speak to their lives and interests, is a hot topic in education these days, as seen in recent books like The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.

Back in February 1967, William A. Jenkins, associate dean of education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, took to the pages of Educational Leadership to address this very subject.

Read the article: Reading for Enjoyment and Personal Development (PDF)

Jenkins believes “the good reader savors the versatility of style and the music of the diction in a piece of literature, just as a concertgoer savors the artistry in a sonata,” and that teachers must make an effort to engage students in reading that fits their tastes and interests, which he stresses may well be different than those of the teachers.

In particular, he stresses that reading should not always end with elaborate postmortems, such as reflection or analysis in class, but should often stand alone. “Holding the reader and his reactions, feelings, successes, and frustrations as more sacred than the act of reading or the selection he reads cannot be stressed too strongly,” says Jenkins. “The value of reading must be measured by the difference it makes in the reader.”

Do you agree with Jenkins’s prescription? What do you find most effective in engaging readers—especially those who are initially reluctant?