As part of my Spanish class, I am supposed to read one book a week. The books, I think, are kind of like leveled readers for adults, or maybe teenagers who want to speak Spanish. I'm in what's known as "Level One Novels." The book I'm reading right now is called ESPERANZA. According to the blurb on the back,
It's actually kind of an interesting story and the text is really supportive of me as language learner. It's told entirely in present tense. There's lots of repetition. The book includes a lot of cognates (words that are similar in English and Spanish, e.g. preocupada=preoccupied or worried, caos= chaos). It's not that hard to understand. It's only about sixty pages (ten chapters). If I read two chapters a day, I could easily finish the book."This novel is based on the chilling true story of a young family caught in the middle of political corruption and unspeakable violence during Guatemala's 36 year long civil war. Tired of watching city workers endure countless human and civil rights violations, Alberto organizes a union, then finds himself on the government's 'extermination' list…"
My Spanish teacher, Señora Rowan, insists that if we read the books faithfully, our Spanish will get better. I really want my Spanish to get better. I really need my Spanish to get better. I'm paying money I don't even really have to take the course.
Why, then, am I having a hard time motivating myself to read? I've had ESPERANZA for two weeks. I'm only about halfway through it. And that's because I made myself sit down and read for an hour tonight.
I can't help but think about the kids I teach, especially the middle schoolers. Our situations are actually very similar. The middle schoolers are expected to read every night. We have books that are interesting and fun to read. We have titles on almost any subject, books that are super easy and books that are super hard. We have poetry, graphic novels, historical fiction, dystopian fiction, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And yet some of them, lots of them, still don't read, or at least not willingly.
And so I'm sitting here tonight, with my little Spanish novel, wondering what I can learn about home reading, how I might make it more viable for kids, especially kids that struggle, and how I can get myself to read in Spanish every night.
Because I really want to get better at Spanish.
As much as I want them to get better at reading.