Many struggling readers can't answer this question. They think reading is hard or boring or simply done because "you have to do it". What we can help them understand is that we read to change our heads and our hearts. We read to add to our schema and understand the human condition, and we read to help ourselves make decisions.
For each reading selection, I've been asking students to talk about how what we read changed their head and/or their heart. At first, they are surprised by this question, but after a few seconds of thought, they are able to begin describing new ideas from the text or connections to the character's dilemma. This simple question changes their understanding of why we read. It makes it personal and meaningful.
So give it a try. Next time you're engaging your learners in a text conversation, try asking "how does this text change your head or your heart?"
*Thank you Kylene Beers and Bob Probst for putting this question into my head!