Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

Kelly Gallagher offers a definition for what he calls Readicide: “noun, the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools” (2).

Gallagher admits that this definition may be offensive to some, but it definitely did not offend me. As soon as I saw the title of this book, I had to read it. It resonated with me, as I see the death of reading everyday. I see the students being forced to read only from the classic cannon they loathe with a passion.

Gallagher discusses the contributing factors to readicide. Among them is a lack of relevant, high interest reading materials and a lack of time in which students actually read during school hours.

Gallagher offers support for SSR (sustained silent reading) by citing research in favor of SSR as “a valuable investment in test preparation” and “necessary to allow students an opportunity to build their prior knowledge and background” (42-43). This is said to refute the fact that many schools are cutting reading time for test preparation. 

I used to be one of those teachers who did not like to have SSR during class. For some reason, I thought that reading should be assigned as homework, and it was a waste of time to read in class. We will just call that thinking naiveté.

However, as Gallagher points out, having the time and a place to read during school is part of the formula to growing a reader.

The book is short (less than 150-including the references and appendixes) and offers ways in which teachers can combat or prevent readicide. Check out Gallagher’s use of The Article of the Week and the One Pagers. I have successfully used The Article of the Week idea with both my 7th and 10th grade students. 

I will leave you, hoping you never follow the recipe below, but you do check out Gallagher’s book.

The Kill-a-Reader Casserole

Take one large novel. Dice it into as many pieces as possible.

Douse with sticky notes.

Remove book from oven every five minutes and insert worksheets.

Add more sticky notes.

Baste until novel is unrecognizable, far beyond well done.

Serve in choppy, bite-size chunks (73).