T is reading. And I don’t mean a word here and there or figuring out some phrases on signs from the pictures or surrounding context. What I mean is, T is picking up books he’s never seen before and reading them. To us. About one every night now on average. And he freaking loves it.
It. Is. Awesome.
T has always loved books. I started reading to him nightly when he was three months old. We’ve had a long-established bedtime routine that’s included on average about 20-to-30 minutes of reading a night. It’s rare that we miss a night either. In fact, when we do miss it, T calls us out on it… and we double up the following night at his request.
I don’t think I ever mentioned the first time T read a book to us all by himself. It was earlier this summer when he picked up one of several reader-style books at Grandma Shirl’s house and fought his way through reading it all by himself. It wasn’t easy for him, but he wanted to do it, and so he did it. Maybe I didn’t mention it before now because after it happened I thought it was a total fluke (which it did sort-of turn out to be actually). In fact, while we celebrated it with him when it happened, we really didn’t go too overboard about it or make mention of it after the moment passed by. We didn’t want to push. Maybe the dinos were going to school, but T was just getting out for the summer.
It wasn’t until several weeks after that when T really read aloud like that again. Meaning, it didn’t really recur until school started in September. After T made his Kindergarten book box, the books started coming home at a rapid pace. Some are seasonal while others highlight certain sight words that the curriculum focused on in a particular week. This nice mix of book themes and his involvement in creating the books (coloring them, filling in the sight words, some even have dedications at the start of the book!) definitely reignited a desire for him to read independently. It also ignited a desire for him to improve his coloring skills quite a bit, but that’s another post for another day.
From there, T’s love of reading aloud to us meant many more library visits and him checking out even more books than our usual 10. As the visits continued, I noticed that we found ourselves moving into the “early readers” shelves of the children’s area more and more and farther and farther away from the preschool book baskets.
Most recently, we discovered the “Fly Guy” series by Scholastic ; now that T has read three of the books to us, he is determined to read us every book from the collection. I totally get it, T… when I find a series I like, I too want to keep going to see what happens to the characters on their next adventure.
Here are other ways to support and encourage those budding readers in our lives:
Book Fairs. Our school recently held its fall book fair. This was a week-long event that held hours before and after school for kids and parents (and anyone else in the community really) to stop by and hang out, browse, and/or buy books in a fun and creative atmosphere. Members of our school’s PTA took the time to transform our school library into a “Reading Oasis” complete with mummies, a teachers’ “Treasures of Books” pyramid (where each teacher had a stack of book wish tickets for shoppers to take and fulfill with their own orders), and other fun decor that just made being there like walking into a picture book. Branded by Scholastic, our book fair had a decent range of materials appropriate for preschool-through-middle school level readers in a fun setting, making it a wonderful place to start that holiday shopping, too!
The Library. I can’t say it enough: Support your public library, RMT’ers! We are firm believers that the library remains a wonderful community resource not just for the stockpiles of books and information that can be found there but even more so for the sense of community that such a place fosters. It’s a place where we can begin to teach our children at a young age how to share with others through the concepts of borrowing, lending, and taking care of public property. Oh, and by the way, the library is still free (three weeks free per book at our libraries anyway; movies and music cost a nominal weekly charge), and most have wonderful free or low-cost programs and events targeted for the youngest readers in the family, too.
Let the reader pick the majority of the books. Your kid wants to read you another Star Wars book? OK. And another book about trains? That’s OK, too. Puppies and fairies? Yup and yup. It’s all good actually. Whatever the budding reader wants, please, let them have it (as long as it’s appropriate, of course!). While the kids might not choose exactly what we’d choose for reading material, it’s not about our interest, it’s about theirs… and it’s about fostering that love of reading, RMT’ers! Does that mean we never toss a few of our own choices into the mix? Of course not. In fact, I’ve been working off of this suggested reading list for Kindergarteners, tossing one or two selections from that list into T’s library bag each visit.
Keep reading to your kids, even well after they start reading by themselves. We never pushed T to “learn how to read.” All we did was read to him on an extremely regular (daily) basis. Maybe it was a bit too extreme, eh? Well, I can’t say we regret having read to T as much as we did so early and so often. In fact, I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone regret that, like, ever. Anyway, despite the fact that T is now reading independently more and more as the days go by, he still very much wants and desires C and I to read to him nightly. And that’s a-OK with us.
RMT’ers, how do you encourage the budding reader(s) in your lives? Please share your tips here!