Reading Like a Wolf Eats

pile of books

Sometimes it seems like every available surface in my house and office looks like this. And I’m not in the middle of moving or reorganizing bookshelves. I just like books. A lot.

This week, I laid my cards on the table in Adolescent Literature class.The only thing I really care that you do in this class, I told them, is read like a wolf eats. Now there’s a learning outcome that’s easily measured and assessed!

But what could be more important in a course on Adolescent Literature? I want my students in a hot fever of reading. I want them dining, snacking, feasting on books.

For those of us who love books, it seems only natural and right that we read like wolves eat. That’s a line from Gary Paulsen, and I love the physical quality of reading that’s suggested by it, the voracity, the necessity of reading.

When I first started teaching high school, I thought that my students would become voracious readers if I surrounded them with amazing books and gave them time to read. That was a good start, and it certainly helped, but it wasn’t enough.

So what do we need in order to read like wolves?

We took our first pass at brainstorming answers to that question on the first day of class, and it’s one we will return to several times throughout the semester to see how our answers deepen and evolve.

But a few highlights from the first day:

  • Books–lots of them, and lots of the right ones
  • Knowledge about who we are as readers–our favorite authors, genres
  • Stamina
  • Immersion–entering what Nancie Atwell calls “the reading zone”
  • Books about our interests and needs
  • Time
  • Books that bring joy and books that challenge

And the answer that I thought was key:

  • A teacher who leads by example

And that’s why it’s so important for the students in Adolescent Literature to read like wolves eat: so that they can become that teacher who leads by example.

Photo Credit: Photo CC-BY tristanf

3 thoughts on “Reading Like a Wolf Eats

  1. I have always loved that quote, and I love that you are using it in class. To extend your metaphor, if a student loves a book and gets others to read it, he/she can be the alpha for that book, your class is a reading pack (of course), and you could rate books with howls. Can you tell I am a middle school person? 😉 I think you could make it work at your level, too, though 🙂

    • Loved imagining rating books with howls! Then I started getting a headache, LOL. I especially like the extension of the metaphor with the pack and the alpha. Donalyn Miller talks about epicenter readers, and this semester, I am hoping to identify the alpha readers early on and involve them more in our community’s reading life.

  2. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/14 | the dirigible plum

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