What is Reading? To a 4th grader?

This past Tuesday, I surveyed what my 4th graders are currently reading as I do about once a month in Library Class, just to have a sense on some favorite titles and whether they are all engaging in the act of reading.  One boy looked mighty uncomfortable and almost embarrassed when it was his turn.  He squeaked a reply, almost inaudible, “I’m not reading anything.”  I said, “That’s all right.  Let’s find you something to read today.” He replied, “But I am spending a lot of time reading this National Geographics book on the greatest journeys of the world.”  I quickly assured him and the entire class that, “Reading a nonfiction IS READING,” and to never feel bad if you are not the kind of reader who reads only made-up STORIES.

But why, by age 8 or 9, children already have formed this strong belief that if they are not reading Fiction, they are NOT reading?

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