02 October 2013
For the Love of Books
I have been stewing about reading lately because a couple of people I like have asked me about helping their kids read, and also I had been interested in the subject because I teach English to boys in a residential treatment center twice a week.
In my searches I borrowed The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller from a friend, and I loved what this educator had to say about instilling a love of reading in your students and/or children. She offers the opinion that letting children make choices about what they will read makes a huge difference in getting them to love reading. She requires her students to read forty books a year, and they consistently perform very well on standardized tests. I loved how her book was a perfect mixture of philosophy and practical advice. She shares some great specifics on what she does in the classroom to foster a reading-friendly environment.
My mother-in-law is a children's librarian, and she gave all of her daughters-in-law a copy of Reading Magic, by Mem Fox, a few years ago. Fox's opinion is that reading aloud to young children is the best method to get them to read easily and joyfully when they reach the time to learn. I can completely endorse this method. I read aloud to my kids each night before they go to bed, and often more than that in the day time, and my second grader picked up on reading very quickly and reads very well. My kindergartener seems well on his way, and he seems enthusiastic. We went to the library this week, and he had grabbed too many books before I had a chance to stop him. (The library lets you check out twenty at a time per card.)
Some interesting things about reading:
* There is a correlation between the number of books in a home and a child's reading success. I have read this in several different sources. We don't buy a ton of books, but I go to the library every week, so we get a wide variety through.
* It is better for you to read aloud with a struggling reader than to make them read to you. You want to focus on fluid reading, and if their brain is all focused on sounding out each word, they will have such an unpleasant experience that they will not want to read.
* Sometimes reluctant readers may be helped by getting books with more pictures, such as graphic novels, or even children's books.
* On the other hand, it is great for children's brains if you read them stories with minimal pictures because they imagine what is going on and make connections and predictions.
* Fairy tales which have a moral or consequences in them help children develop logic and the ability to predict natural consequences.
I will quit here and just recommend that if you want your kids or students to read and love reading, I recommend either of these books.
This next month for book group we are reading a Halloween theme, and I checked out some Stephen King novels. Now I just have to get over my terror of them enough to pick one up.