Category Archives: success

Reading Under the Cottonwood Trees

Reluctant readers. Reticent readers. Struggling readers. Non-readers. The I-hate-to-read kids.

Call them what you will, these are the kids I work with every day. Getting them to read anything is one tough job—sort of like saying, “You may choose. Which would you prefer: to have your leg amputated or to have a root canal?”

My last class of the day, reading intervention, is my smallest. I have six students, all of whom have varying degrees of antipathy toward the written word. J-Boy, in particular, despises books. Every time I ask him to read for me, he says no.

J-Boy’s negativity casts a pall over the class, like yesterday’s gloomy weather, with rain falling from morning to night. Today, however, was bright and sunny with scarcely a cloud in the sky. During reading intervention, I looked wistfully out the window at the little courtyard behind the building and thought: I’d like to be there instead of here. Maybe I could take J-Boy outside to read.

“I need you to read for me, please,” I said to J-Boy, shaking myself out of my reverie.


“Don’t argue with me. Just get your book and let’s read.”

“Can we go outside?”


J-Boy’s attitude changed immediately. His look of disgust changed to delight as he grabbed his book and almost ran to the door.

V-Boy (another reluctant reader, who is in my language arts class earlier in the day) happened to be in my room doing some make-up work. “Can I go too?”


So the three of us went outside to the courtyard and sat at a picnic table in the shade of some cottonwood trees. The boys took turns reading aloud to me from an Accelerated Reader book about snakes.

“Let’s finish this book tomorrow,” I said, “and then you can take the AR test on it.”

“Me too?” asked V-Boy?

“Yes, you too.” (Later, I cleared it with his last-period teacher.)

All three of us can hardly wait to read under the cottonwood trees again.

Six-Word Saturday: C’est la vie!


Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.

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