Why Do I Have to Read This?

Literacy Strategies to Engage Our Most Reluctant Students

Now Available!

What teacher doesn’t dread this question? It usually comes from our most disengaged students like the class clown or the student who struggles to read and write at grade-level. Sometimes we hear it from a student who cries of boredom or one who is angry or apathetic. When we don’t know what else to try, it’s easy to become frustrated and give up on these challenging learners. But take heart! Author Cris Tovani has spent her career figuring out how to entice challenging students back into the process of learning.

You can create a quote by adding products to your cart and selecting Quote in checkout.

This title is also available through major book retailers, including Amazon.

Shipping Details
In stock. Free ground shipping. No minimum.


In Why Do I Have to Read This? Cris Tovani shares her best secrets, lessons learned from big fails, and her most effective literacy and planning strategies that hook these hard to get learners. 

You will meet many of Cris’s students inside this book. As she describes some of her favorites, you may even recognize a few of your own. You will laugh at her stories and take comfort in her easily adaptable strategies that help students remove their masks of disengagement. Cris shows teachers how to plan by anticipating students’ needs. Her Curriculum You Anticipate structures of Topic, Task, Targets, Text, Tend to me, and Time will literally help you anticipate your curriculum. 

Inside Why Do I Have to Read This? readers will find:

  • literacy strategies for all content areas that support and engage a wide range of learners so they can read and write a variety of complex text 
  • reference charts packed with small bites of instructional shifts that coaches and teachers can use to quickly adjust instruction to re-engage students 
  • planning strategies that show teachers how to connect day-to-day instruction so that no day lives in isolation 
  • versatile thinksheets that are reproducible and adaptable to different grade levels, content areas, and disciplines

Above all, Cris gives teachers energy to get back into the classroom and face students who wear masks of disengagement. She reminds us of the importance of connecting students to compelling topics, rich text, useful targets, and worthy tasks. She reminds us of the importance of tending to students’ basic needs and helps us consider how to best structure instructional time. After reading this book, teachers will have new ways to connect with students in a deep, authentic way. Written in a humorous, compassionate, and wise voice, Why Do I Have to Read This? will provide answers to the pressing questions we have when we try to teach and reach all of our students.


eBook Available Through Major Retailers

We offer ebook editions for most of our print titles so you can access on your computer, tablet, or e-reader from several major retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, OverDrive, and ebooks.com. View the full list of retailers here. For eBook purchases of 10+ please email us for a quote. Purchases of 20+ qualify for a bulk discount.

If you previously purchased an ebook from Stenhouse.com, they will remain available in your digital library. 

About the Author(s)

Cris is an internationally known consultant who focuses on issues of disciplinary reading and writing instruction. She was awarded the 2017 Thought Leader Award from the International Literacy Association. Cris has been an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. She is the author of five books, most recently Why do I Have to Read This? Cris has taught students from grades 1-12 and continues to study the “knowing-doing gap” by investigating how best practice research can be practically applied to a variety of instructional settings.


Table of Contents


Chapter 1: I Hate School and I'm Not Wild About You Either

  • These Kids Don't Care
  • The Masks Kids Wear
  • The Mask of the Class Clown
  • The Mask of Minimal Effort
  • The Mask of Invisibility
  • When Am I Fully Engaged?
  • Circles of Engagement: Behavioral, Emotional, and Cognitive
  • What Comes First?
  • Back to Our Big Questions

Chapter 2: Wedgies, Drunken Bears, and the Stress of Shortsighted Planning

  • Trust Them to Think
  • Our Big Questions
  • Planning Ahead to Keep from Getting Behind
  • Winging Workshop
  • Thinking About the Long and Short of It:
    Long-Term Planning that Guides the Day-to-Day Work
  • Curriculum Is More Than the "Stuff" We Teach
  • CYA Structures: Harnessing the Power of the Six Ts:
    Topic, Tasks, Targets, Text, Tend to Me, and Time
  • The Six Ts Organized by Small Bites:
    Topic, Tasks, Targets, Text, Tend to Me, and Time
  • Long-Term Planning Components that Remove the Masks

Chapter 3: The Masks of Anger and Apathy

  • The Mask of Anger
  • The Mask of Apathy
  • Teacher as Chief Connector
  • Connecting Kids to Content
  • Connecting Students to Each Other
  • Connections to Text
  • What Works Best to Connect Kids to Text?
  • Where Do I Find Text That Kids Will Read?
  • Connections Affect Anger and Apathy
  • What Works? Five CYA Strategies That Help Students
    Take Off the Masks of Anger and Apathy

Chapter 4: The Mask of the Class Clown

  • Why Text Matters
  • Tending to Text Selection
  • Tending to Topics
  • Who Cares About the Rock Cycle?
  • Rodderick and the Rocks
  • Fifty-Two Stories High
  • What Makes a Topic Compelling?
  • I Don't Want to Get Political
  • Why Controversy Matters
  • The View from the Street
  • What Works? Five CYA Strategies That Help Students
    Put Away Their Class Clown Mask

Chapter 5: The Mask of Minimal Effort

  • If Only I Could Read My Teacher's Mind
  • Showing What Success Looks Like by Analyzing a Model
  • Authentic Artifacts and Mentors: Meet the Guest Teacher
  • Working Smarter, Not Harder, with Learning Targets
  • The Open Letter Learning Target Rubric
  • Minilessons Students Need to Keep Going
  • Real Work: The Need for Audience and Authenticity
  • What Works? Five CYA Strategies That Remove the Masks of Minimal Effort

Chapter 6: The Mask of Invisibility

  • Talking Isn't the Only Way to Show Thinking
  • Making the Invisible Visible
  • What They Are and What They Aren't
  • Design Structures That Make Thinksheets Versatile
  • Eight Go-To Structures for Thinksheets
  • Provocative Question Reflections
  • Double-Entry Diaries
  • Innver Voice Sheets
  • Synthesis Thinksheets
  • Exit Tickets
  • Vocabulary Builders
  • Silent Reading Thinksheets
  • Back to the Big Questions
  • What Works? Five CYA Structures That Help Students
    Remove the Masks of Invisibility

Chapter 7: When You Care, You Fall More

  • Teachers Wear Masks, Too
  • A Last Look at Our Big Questions
  • The Six Ts Are Our Tools
  • One Last Story
  • We Determine the Weather


  • Appendix A: Learning Target Rubrics
  • Appendix B: Double-Entry Diaries
  • Appendix C: Inner Voice Sheets
  • Appendix D: Synthesis Sheets
  • Appendix E: Vocabulary Builders
  • Appendix F: Silent Reading Response Sheet
  • Appendix G: Virtual Background Knowledge Placemats


Product Details

Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Media: 232 pp/paper
Year: 2020
Item No: 1151
ISBN: 978-1-62531-151-1
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers