Wow! Share a Story – Shape a Future is now officially underway. We are kicking off the event with the theme that also doubles as our goal for the week: Raising Readers.
We’ve heard the prescription: read with your kids everyday. It sounds like an infomercial: “In just 15 minutes a day, you can help your child be tops in his class.” But for lots of reasons, that 15 minutes never materializes. I understand, it happens to me too. The good news is that today isn’t the only day kids will see letters and words. We can try again tomorrow.
With reading, there is no one perfect starting place, no one perfect moment in time. Like many of the good things we try to do — exercise and dieting come to mind — it takes practice and support to reach our goals. Just as sons become fathers and mothers become grandmothers, each generation helps raise the readers in the next one. There is no beginning or end, no age limit for when we start raising readers.
Many years ago, at least one caring adult in your life supported your effort to learn to read. They helped raise a reader. You may not remember the specific things they did to help you or even the books you read. To become a reader, you took lots of little steps over a long period of time. But now you are here.
Fast forward to today. How would your child see a reader? Would he describe him as a boy who digs for worms and likes to sing silly songs? Would she say it’s a girl who climbs trees and plays soccer? Would he say its a kid with Ketchup on his Tshirt and long stringy hair? Would she describe you?
Kids want to see people that look like them and like the same stuff, be they real humans or life-like characters in a book. As toddlers, kids love imitating what you do and looking at themselves in the mirror. As teens, they still love mirrors. Seeing their reflection is a way of both connecting and grounding. It reassures them that they are Okay.
And so it is with books. To see themselves as readers, kids want to look “just like everybody else.” If they see readers only as people who wear wire-rimmed glasses and sweater vests — and they wouldn’t be caught dead in a sweater vest — then they can’t see themselves as readers.
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
~ Sydney J. Harris ~
Raising Readers is about relationships. As both Cathy Miller and Sandra Stiles explain, raising readers is about making connections. It is about finding ways to help children understand that reading is a necessary but ordinary part of life. They need to see that we are all readers. Cathy and Sandra also remind us that raising readers is not language-dependent. They both shared stories about engaging parents as partners in their child’s reading development across languages.
Because we live in a text-rich environment, there are no limits to the ways we can engage kids as readers. Just by looking around we can turn the routine events of the day (driving to ballet practice) into reading opportunities (reading the exit sign).
Today’s guests have lots of great ideas for integrating reading in our daily routines. Here is our lineup. As posts go live, I will add the links. Done.
Finding Time at Home – Tricia Stohr-Hunt @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Making Time in the Classroom for Read Alouds – Sarah Mulhern @ The Reading Zone
Look for the Clues: Tips and Tricks to Help a Remedial Reader – Sandra Stiles guest post on Scrub-a-Dub-Tub
It’s Bigger than the Book: Building Strong Readers at any Age with a Daily Dose of Read Aloud, an Interview with Cathy Miller
Minding the Gap: Engagine Gifted Readers – Donalyn Miller @ The Book Whisperer
More Great Posts about Raising Readers
Useful Tools from Reach Out and Read
- A Developmental Milestones chart to help parents match motor and cognitive development with literacy. The chart is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
- Reading Tips is a one-page document with easy-to-use ideas to engage children with a book.
- What Children Like in Books describes the kinds of things children like to see in books, from infant to age 5.
- Doctor-recommended Reading lists books by theme and age.
Have you found a way to build reading into your day? Throughout the day, I’ll be reading through the comments to post ideas here. If you have written a post, please be sure to put your link in the comment. We invite you to visit the Share a Story – Shape a Future blog to get the event image to add to your post.
image credit: Author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba created the Share a Story – Shape a Future logo.