While I am basically happy with the IRA’s newest Position Statement on Leisure Reading, I have to question the thinking behind calling independent reading “Leisure Reading.” I get what they are saying, and am in agreement with their arguments in favor of children having more time to read books that they choose to read widely and deeply, but I am concerned about calling independent reading “Leisure Reading.”
I teach in a high poverty community with many (most) children coming from homes where they speak a language other than English. My school supports a Reading Workshop framework for teaching reading, and teachers have large blocks of time devoted to independent reading with conferring. We also have classroom libraries and a fully supported summer reading program. We believe that children need lots of time to read books that they choose to read.
In my mind (and experience) the word “leisure” connotes privilege. I am worried about how to best present this position statement to parents in my school community. The content of the statement is solid, but I kind of wish they had called this something else ….. like “independent reading.” Is anyone else thinking about the class issues associated with “Leisure Reading?” Maybe I am over-thinking it. At any rate, I am very happy about the position IRA is taking regarding this type of reading!