As my classes completed a first semester of Self Directed Reading there were still some students who fought the idea of reading or who read begrudgingly. Even though I attempted to consistently remind myself that I needed to hold out and keep offering titles that may interest those students, there were days that it was frustrating to watch students flip through titles, by the end of the semester it started to show in students’ writing that they were reading and acquiring a few things. Phrases and words showed up from titles in the library. This is why we need as much reading material as possible. It is also why the introductory level books are important.
Although Quis me amat? may seem too easy or elementary, the strong visual support offers opportunities for Novice readers to acquire a lot of family vocabulary. Unfortunately, some of the imagery reinforces certain kinds of stereotypes, but perhaps that can be overcome by offering students a chance to create their own images to go along with the story as a chance to respond to the text in a way that is similar to ideas listed in Janice Pilgreen’s SSR Handbook.
The title exposes students to pronouns, datives, genitives, objects, adverbs, numbers, 1st person and 3rd person perspective with a subject object verb word order. There is a lot packed into such a short story. The simple story offers opportunities for students to consider their own families. There is some minor conflict, especially between cousins. Quis me amat? offers a simple introduction or review to family.
The strength in introductory titles is the visual support. Students don’t always want to read. Perhaps they bombed a biology test the previous period. Or maybe they lost a beloved pet the previous night. Some students might color as they read the title. It’s important to set some boundaries for coloring such titles so that students are reading as much as possible, but I’ve noticed some of the students who complain about reading the most acquire a few words and phrases that show up in their writing. Introductory texts such as Quis me amat? allow students an opportunity to engage in reading on their own terms. In the end, self motivated readers is more powerful than anything we can do as instructors in respect to acquisition.