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The Power of Teachers as Readers


Meeting teachers and conducting workshops over time, I am always heartened and inspired when teachers share that they see one of their most important roles being that of creating a reading habit amongst their students, building a reading culture in their schools & classrooms and producing lifelong readers.


One of the most powerful ways we can achieve these goals are to be readers ourselves. Why is it important to have teachers as readers?


Firstly by being readers we serve as important and powerful role models to our students. When students see their teachers carrying a book in their bags, reading when they have free time, sharing something with them about what they read, it has a huge positive impact. Teachers are showing, through their actions, that reading is important rather than just saying the words.


Secondly, when we talk to students about our own reading, we show them what it means to have real reading lives. Teachers should talk to students about when they read, what they read, how they choose books, and what genres they like or don’t like. Equally important is to share with them the challenges faced with reading like how it is sometimes hard to find the time to read, how at times they may abandon books after starting them, how they might find some find texts hard to understand and so on. Students get to see that these are all normal and part of a readers journey.


When you read yourself, you get to share, recommend and suggest books to your students. This provides a powerful way to get to know your students better, build relationships and foster a sense of community. In her book ‘Reading in the Wild,’ Donalyn Miller says, “ When we promote books to children and share our reading lives with them, we offer more than another great book recommendation or reading cheerleader; we invite them into a society that revers reading and readers” (2013, p.91).


And finally, your reading identity influences and plays a huge part in deciding the kinds of reading experiences and environments you create for your students. Your beliefs about reading, your past experiences with reading (good and bad), your reading biases and preferences, your awareness and knowledge of available literature will all play a role in determining the time you create for your students to read, the time you spend reading to them, the kinds of books you make available in your classroom and so on.

If we are to build reading cultures and lifelong readers, we need to think about our own reading lives, create our own love for reading and engage in reading ourselves. Our lives as readers and teachers cannot and should not be separate. If you’re not reading now I hope this inspires you to pick up a

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