Yesterday I wrote about my frustration at not finishing the fabulous library books that I check out because I haven’t been making space in my days for reading. Today I returned my remaining books with a smile, because I had finished all but one and was ready to release them–rather than lurk at a safe distance until they were reshelved and then check the same stack back out again. It’s no wonder the librarians are suspicious of me! It was an accomplishment to declare them finished, although I knew deep down that I didn’t enjoy them the way I thought I would. It was another case of reading under pressure—grabbing stolen moments, but feeling guilty for taking the time. I realized that throughout my childhood and even during my college years, I cherished the time that I specifically devoted to reading. I planned my reading time and took care to always have a big stack of books to choose from. This used to be my greatest joy–how could I let that slip away from me? I guess I became too much of a grownup for my own good. As I plan to recapture that reading space in my days from this point forward, it made me also reflect on how our reading instruction in school is structured so that we can teach our kids to make space in their day for reading. Back in my own school days, I used to get in trouble because I had a book open on my lap during math class, or worse—during spelling tests. I craved any chance to just read, and it was scarce. Reading instruction then was a world away from where we have now grown to understand it. Independent reading time is now not only built into our students’ days in large doses, but it is an anchor piece of literacy instruction. I would have been so grateful for this kind of time when I was a kid! And I realized that we are not only giving our students this gift, but we also have the responsibility to teach them how to create this reading space for themselves. We need to talk with them about the joy of finding a cozy (or cute) reading spot, and reaching for a book that they are really excited to open. It’s more than just giving them reading time–we are teaching them to build their own reading life by helping them create space in their lives for finding joy in their books. We hope to make this experience so irresistible that they make space in their lives for reading at home as well. I am going to make an effort this year to build reading space back into my own life and share that point with as many kids as I can. Our lives are so fast, busy, and full…which makes it all the more important to make space for what we treasure.