It is no secret that I love to read. Of course, what some may not know is that I have not always been an avid reader. Growing up, I despised being forced to read items in school and being told that so many book reports were equivalent to an A, B,C, and so on. My mother saw that this was a quantity vs. quality dilemma. She never forced me to do more than seemed reasonable so long as I was reading. I still resent my fifth grade teacher to this day for forcing our class to read The Hobbit.
I believe I owe my mother a huge thank you for not pushing the issue and letting me figure out my own love of reading. When I was finally able to break free of required reading, I felt a weight lift off my back. I learned to love new and different genres and explored many new authors when I was studying to become a teacher. When I became a certified reading teacher, I knew that I would use my experience to help children. While many teachers may not have admitted how they felt as a child, I told my older students. Why not tell them the truth and use it to connect with them. I told them that I would be there to help them as they had to work through the books that I had selected for Language Arts that year. We changed things up, worked together, listened to audio books, and kept thinking outside of the box. I knew that not every student would adore the books I picked, but it was my role as the teacher to get them through them and learn from the titles.
So why am I mentioning this?
Two things have come up recently that have frustrated me as a parent and educator. This summer, our local library changed the summer reading problem. My boys have adored it for many years, but this year it did not click. Rather than focus on the time read and encouraging children to read, it was all about the number of books and completing games for prizes. While this was apparently quite popular with other children (their numbers were high), it was not with us. My oldest was reading Harry Potter books. He tuned out and never wanted to go back and once again my reluctant reader was back. In the past, the library program kept track of every fifteen minutes that children read. After so much time, they received a prize like a pencil, ice cream cone coupon, or something else. This spoke to my kids, especially my reluctant reader. He could read his books about facts during the day and more of Harry Potter at night. It was an amazing motivator and he was reading an hour or more each evening before bed during the summer.
The next thing that I do not understand is requiring a specific amount of books to be read during a school year. Sure, it may work for younger elementary age students who are learning to read and emerging with leveled reading and picture books. The reality is it blows up after second or third grade when kids have moved onto chapter books. This is once again pushing the quantity versus quality button in my brain. It also discourages children from pushing themselves further and trying more challenging books. Why would they want to if it is simply the number that counts and not titles, authors, or time actually spent reading. Why yes, this also can lead more children down the path to being a reluctant reader.
So my questions to you this week:
How do you encourage your children to read without stepping on toes and making them reluctant readers? Have you ever had a time when you did not like to read or perhaps your children? I would love to know what you did and how you helped to remedy this.
Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this Friday fun. These days, Pamela at A Renaissance Woman is reviving the fun Friday Meme. Head over there to link up and join in the fun.
Oh Beth…this one speaks to me. T has always had issues with reading. Him learning to read tortured our whole family for nearly 3 years. It just was not clicking for him, at all, not one thing I did seemed to help. This summer(thank God) it clicked~ he is now reading chapter books. Real ones, not easy readers, that makes me one happy mama.
FF to school starting…they are required to read 30 minutes a night and do AR tests. He is reading well over his 30 minutes most nights.Finishing a chapter book every 2-3 days. So I get a note home from his teacher that I have to fill out a calendar every night and send it back daily….and that he is doing AR tests that are at 2.8 level not 3+ level. He is testing reading at 60-80 wpm not 80-120. well sorry teach, I am THRILLED this child will voluntarily pick up a book, I am not going to test him, quiz him, push him in any way that might turn him back off. He is so far improved from 4 months ago I would consider throwing him a party!!!! Then I find out by seeing some of the AR test, yeah those are at the 2.8 level, but everyone of them he got either a 90 or 100 on. And he is working his way rather quickly at this point to a higher level. I intend to let him direct it.
As for the calendar…omg I hate these things. I have 3 kids. They get off the bus and get home between 4 and 4 15. We then effectively have 3.5 hours for homework, baths, chores, cooking dinner, boy scouts, football practice, and family time. This feels more like homework for ME, and on top of that he always brings it while I am cooking, or bathing his little brother, or sleeping, or it is an excuse for him to get up at midnight cause he got to thinking about it….really, I don’t want something I have to sign every day, I don’t even want something I have to sign every week!
Oh yes! My husband is an avid reader. We have books all over the house. We have a reading time.
One of our reluctant readers got interested in a television series that she found in paperback. She was hooked! From there she began reading other genres too. Visiting the public library every week also helps.
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[…] recently wrote about the dangers of Quantity vs. Quality When Reading with children. Over the years, I have watched my oldest son’s interest in reading change. While […]