Today I would like to share quotes and my responses to two recent articles from teachers about nurturing a love of reading in kids. Although these articles are both technically aimed at educators, I think there are important messages for parents, too. Pernille Ripp calls for helping kids learn to love reading by letting them read books that are easy for them (while also encouraging them to develop their skills). Lisa Westman makes a similar point when she says that teachers should be focused on helping kids to love reading, rather than taking away the joy by making reading a chore.
In my own post about summer reading tips, I talked about how parents should let go of reading levels and just let kids read, and how they should give kids choice. These two recent post thus both resonated with me. If you are a parent reading this, I would suggest that you channel your energies towards making summer reading FUN for your kids. The rest will surely follow.
Pernille Ripp: "A better reader is someone who sees reading as valuable. Who recognizes the need to read because they will feel less than if they don’t. Who sees reading as a necessity to learning, for themselves and not just for others. Who sees reading as a journey to be on, something worth investing in. And so I wonder; when we tell children not to read easy books, how much of that individual reading identity journey do we dismiss?
Easy books, whether they be graphic novels, books below their actual comprehension skills, free verse, audio books, or even picture books, can get such a bad reputation in our schools... Yet these are the books that keep us loving reading. That keeps us coming back. Those books that we devour in one sitting because we must find out what happens next, aren’t those “easy” books for all of us?...
While our job, as educators, is to develop children who can read, our job is also to develop children who want to read. "
Me: I wish that all teachers could feel as Pernille Ripp does, that part of their job is to develop kids who want to read. I wish that all of the teachers who do feel this way could have the support and tools to make that happen. What I know is that as a reader, I absolutely choose books that are "easy" on one level or another much of the time. I don't get enough sleep these days for various reasons, and when I try to things that are dense, or that bore me even a little bit, I fall asleep. And then I don't get any reading done. And so, at least for now, I gravitate towards mysteries and page-turners. That is what's working for me right now.
For my daughter, as I've said before, I feel that my job is to make sure that reading at home (and in the car, and on trips, and so on) is enjoyable for her. The more she enjoys it now, at seven, the better she'll be able to withstand the challenges to her life as a reader that I fear are coming (AR points, whole class reads of dry classics, reading logs). But in any case, Pernille's words give me hope. I would like to see many teachers and parents read them in full.
Lisa Westman: "If (as advertised) reading is the key to preventing the summer slide; the one thing all educators must do is curate a love of reading.
Unfortunately, however, we tend to do just the opposite and systemize reading. For many students, reading is seen as a chore, a measure of compliance, or worse, something it is ok to "lie" about (read more about this here or here).
With this in mind, it is no wonder that students choose to not read in the summer. They need a break because reading feels strenuous and stressful." (Click through for Lisa Westman's suggestions for what teachers should do instead to curate a love of reading).
Me: This article is about how teachers can better prepare kids NOT to regress so much in their learning over the summer. The reading section is only one part of it, together with thoughts on building awareness so that kids can synthesize learning from different sources and incorrectly using assessment. But of course it was the reading part that resonated for me. While the author's point in this regard is that teachers should do more to nurture a love of reading in kids (and I certainly agree), I think this is another reminder for parents to keep reading fun, and avoid anything that makes reading feel like a chore.
I do keep a log of what my daughter reads, for example. Just a simple paper list, which I use to write down the titles so that I can then track them on my blog. My daughter used to enjoy writing the books down herself, but this seems to have gotten old. So, no problem. I write them down myself, sometimes having to dig out the books from the back seat of the car to see which ones she has finished. My job is to keep the fun books coming, and to know what she needs next in this week's series of interest. Her job is just to read. And if she tires of a series and wants to read something else, of course that's fine, too. Reading at home, especially during the summer, should be guilt-free, stress-free, and fun. That is all.