Introductory Challenge


Mary Barnes is a paraprofessional who has worked in the same school for many years. She and her colleagues, two other paraprofessionals and three teachers get together on Friday evenings to “decompress.” At this week’s Friday gathering, one of the paraprofessionals started talking about a book from a popular series that she said she was almost “addicted to.” Her comment started a discussion about all of the group members’ attitudes toward reading. Below is a brief summary of what each person said.

Mary Barnes talked about being a reluctant reader. She had experienced some trouble when she was first learning to read, and she still felt insecure about reading. Nevertheless, she enjoyed reading picture books to her own children and the students in her classroom.

Paul Marshall, a math teacher at the school, jumped in to say that he felt even more turned off by reading than Mary was. In fact, he said he was unwillingto read unless it was absolutely necessary. He said that he often asked his girlfriend to tell him about the books she was reading, but he got no enjoyment at all from reading books, magazines, or newspapers himself. The closest he got to enjoying the experience of reading was shopping on-line.

Steve Romano said he was just the opposite. He reported being an engaged, avid reader, plowing through books on science—the subject he had taught most often over the years. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Steve said he read novels in both languages. But most of his reading of books about science was in English.

Lucy Silverman, a paraprofessional who worked with several students with hearing and visual impairments, told Steve that she wasn’t as keen on non-fiction as he was but that she did appreciate certain authors and even had gotten “hooked” on a couple recent fantasy series. “I just can’t put those books down. But I wouldn’t actually sit down with a book related to my work or tax preparation or anything like that. Of course, I do love to read mysteries, craft books, and almost anything by Stephen King.”

“I’m a lot like you,” remarked Wilma Johnston, another paraprofessional at the school. “I feel like just about any novel or short story will suck me in. I guess I focus on certain types of reading material and would prefer not do spend too much time with any other types.”

Dave Martino, the school’s music teacher, characterized his attitude toward reading as “lukewarm.” “I’ll do it if I have to, like for my graduate course, but I’m not one to do much beach reading.”


If you were joining the conversation with Mary and her colleagues, what would you say about your attitude toward and experiences with reading? Which word best characterizes your attitude: reluctant, unwilling, lukewarm, focused, appreciative, or avid?