Nerdy Book Club is a great blog to learn a lot about children’s books, authors, and educator’s experiences around books. Here’s a link to something I recently wrote for the Nerdy Book Club about my experience with the book, Julian’s A Mermaid.
I work in an elementary school, and I spend a lot of my time there promoting books and reading. I’m one of those people that believes,
so I spend a good chunk of time working on that. However, I also believe that as hard as I and my colleagues try to work at it, it can still be difficult and working together with families helps tremendously.
In our often rushed society of instant gratification, many times kids, especially kids who have not been exposed to books early on, do not have the patience it can take to get into books. Seemingly simple tasks such as taking the time to read the back cover, glance at the pictures, or even sticking with it if the first chapter doesn’t grab you are all skills that we frequently have to work to make sure many students take the time for. Then on top of this, we also have to make sure they can read the book. That’s fine. We’re up to the task, but there’s something simple that parents can do to help.
Read with your child from birth.
One of the reasons I really like the Read Aloud organization is because of their focused efforts on developing a reading relationship between parents and their children. The goal of their program is to get parents to read to their 0-5 year old children 15 minutes a day, every day. I believe that simply creating this routine of reading with your child can work wonders for their future reading lives. Reading with your baby or toddler regularly, even for just 15 minutes, can help them discover
- their enjoyment of reading
- which particular genres they enjoy
- a favorite author, illustrator, or series, and
- new words.
All of these skills will prove to be very helpful once they get into school and spend more time learning how to read and reading independently. Trust me. I’m there. Just 15 minutes a day. Please?
Sometimes when I hear those words, I can hand my child the perfect book to drown out the whine. Other times, its met with, “I don’t want to read anything I have!” and I have to just walk away.
Now besides trying to rack your own brain to find the perfect book for your child, there are many different avenues to help get your child out of a “I don’t have anything to read!” rut. They include taking them to the library to ask a librarian, the bookstore to ask an employee there for suggestions, or if school’s in session, having your child ask their teacher for some ideas. However, I recently found a solution that turned the responsibility completely to my daughter.
This book, which I got from a Scholastic book order, has been a godsend for my daughter (and by default, for me). We love the way this book is organized and the suggested titles in the book. Here’s the Table of Contents and the Index in the back:
Things we love: the Table of Contents is organized by age. This makes it easy for my child to focus on certain titles now, as well as what kinds of books to look forward to as she gets older. In the back, the titles are organized by genre, so if she decides she wants to read a book about families, she can find titles there.
Additionally, when it comes to the individual titles, there’s more than just the title on the page, and here are some examples:
There’s a summary of the book (with no spoilers!), suggestions of what to read next, a rating scale to fill in, and a spot to write comments. I love this, because it will be a keepsake to look at many years from now. For example, for The Story of Ferdinand, my daughter wrote, “This book is going to be a movie in 2018 or 2017”. I think this will be great to read and remember in the future, even if we no longer have the actual Ferdinand book.
At any rate, as you can see from the pictures, my daughter has been using this book to decide what to read, and to keep track of books we’ve already read. She’s even taken it to the library a couple of times to help her check out books. So if in your #RaisingReaders quest you are tired of hearing, “I don’t have anything to read”, I would strongly recommend this book for your child (and your sanity).
Wait, don’t think I’m going to bash teachers. I can’t. I won’t. I’m one of them. Also, teaching is hard. It was hard when I was a student and it is difficult in completely different ways now that I don’t even have the time to explain. You should definitely show your appreciation to your child’s teachers. I’m not even suggesting monetarily, but a nice card or letter showing your appreciation is always accepted.
The reason for the “but…” is that there’s one thing I want you to remember as you continue #RaisingReaders:
Or, its also been phrased this way:
Do teachers need to be appreciated? Yes, definitely. And not just during this week, but all school year long. But just as a reminder, you are also your child’s teacher, arguably their most important one. Keep teaching!
One day this week my daughter didn’t take her daily folder back to school, and it was my fault.
Here’s the thing–her daily folder includes a reading log, where she has to log the number of minutes she reads each evening. Not my favorite, but fine, whatever. Now although I have my kids do their homework as soon as they get home, reading a book is not always part of that routine. Sometimes it is, usually when they bring a book from school or I brought new books my school home for them to preview. Instead, they spend most of their time reading at night, in the bed. After we read together, she grabs the book of her choice and that’s how my daughter has fallen asleep just about every night since she learned to read. As a result, I have to remember to sign her sheet in the morning and log (guess-timate) how much time she read the previous night. The end of the school year is nearing, and this was actually the first time we forgot her folder. (And if you ever saw my family trying to get ready and leave the house in the mornings, you would realize how much of a feat it is that this was the first time.)
The thing is, I get what her teacher is trying to do. Students need to be reading at home on a regular basis, and this is a way to keep track of it. However, in my #RaisingReaders quest, I want to instill in my children that reading is not something that is done just for homework or to fill in a reading log, but something that is enjoyable, useful, and can be done just about anytime. As the author of the beloved Ramona books, Beverly Cleary said:
I mean, we do our homework at the kitchen table. How often do you read at the kitchen table?
Exactly. You get in the bed, in your comfy couch/chair, or on the porch/deck and get into a good book. I want reading to feel natural and comfortable to my kids, so it takes a little more effort on my part to take note of how long before she falls asleep each night and to remember to fill out the log in the morning, but in the long term, if I can actually #raisereaders, its totally worth it.