|This issue comes with 3-D glasses!|
Several years ago I read about a study that investigated whether or not a group of high schoolers would identify themselves as "readers". A large number of them indicted that they didn't like to read. However, further questioning revealed that many of them actually enjoyed reading a lot: online material, graphic novels, "how to" books and magazines. The researchers realized that the students were imagining a "reader" to only be someone who enjoys novels. These self-identified "non-readers" were actually demonstrating characteristics of a life-long learner: curiosity, a diversity of interests, and the willingness to seek information.
I'm a big believer in giving kids material that they want to read. Whereas a book might be intimidating, or have negative associations for some reluctant readers, magazines and comic books can be much more palatable. The children are still practicing their reading, and they're developing an association between reading and pleasure. Of course learning the strategies to appreciate quality literature is important, too, and the children are exposed to such material during the school day (both in their regular classrooms and in their specials). I'm always excited to share the gems with my students as part of an author study, special unit or as recommended reading. It's gratifying to have a student embrace one of my favorites, but it's also heartening to see any student leave the library excited about what was discovered that day.