A senior student named David chose A Child Called It (Pelzer), because, as he later articulated, the font was comparatively large and the text was easy-to-read and contained some pictures. David read every day. Even when it was a half day of school due to a pep rally, he made the choice to hang back after the entire class left. When asked why he didn’t leave after dismissal to join the basketball game going on outside, he replied, “Well, I thought I would finish the book. I only have a few more pages to go.”
He finished the book that day and confided that this was the first book he had ever read in its entirety during high school. Mystery solved. Seizing the moment, the reading specialist asked, “What did it take for you to be one of the best basketball players in the state?” He replied, “Easy…practice,” and through this practice, students immediately gained self-efficacy and started to see growth in their abilities to read, write, think, and discuss. Just like everything in life, reading, writing, and thinking needs to be refined through practice. David went on to pass the FCAT and graduate. He now attends school at a major university in the South where he will graduate this year.
When I asked him why he read this book, he simply stated, “The book was catchy.” Upon further reflection, he added that he did not feel the pressure of a strict time frame to finish the book, and the teacher wasn’t “ramming” the book down his throat; he had choice in what he read. Although David’s sole concern at the beginning of the year was passing the FCAT to graduate, the teacher found that fix that allowed for David to become a graduate and a reader!