Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Growing a Reader - Can it really be done?

I once attended a seminar/lecture taught by Jim Trelease when I was still teaching.  I was pregnant for the first time with G, and kept thinking, "This kid is going to love books.  I am going to surround him with books, and take him to the library once a week, minimum."

The Trelease seminar (and the book pictured below) was on the importance of reading aloud.  A report in 1985 by the Commission on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education concluded,

"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Did you know that the more printed materials found in a child's home, the higher the student's writing, reading, and math skills?

Trelease's book

One last quote from Trelease:

The bottom line is that the richer words you hear, the richer will be the words you give back - in speech or writing.  Reading aloud as early in their lives as possible and continuing through the grades, will expose them to a rich, organized, and interesting language model they will at least have as an alternative to the tongue-tied language of their peers.

And can you really grow a reader?  Does reading aloud really make a difference?

Well, let's see.  I read to G so much as a baby.  We would lay on our backs on my bed and I would go through a stack of picture books while he contentedly kicked and gurgled.  

When he sat up and started playing, he practically chewed all his board books to pieces. 

I took him to the library once a week, where all he wanted to do was play in the peek-a-boo house.  I got him books on CD, books of his own, signed up for all those library reading challenges where he gots prizes, etc.  

And now?  He's 9 years old.  His idea of a good book is Garfield.  Calvin and Hobbes.  Sigh.  

Sometimes I wonder where I went wrong.  But that's not the point.  The point is that when it comes to parenting, there are no easy formulas.  A + B does not necessarily equal C.  I have to remember his vocabulary skills and verbal communication are rather outstanding.  (Makes him SO fun to argue with...)

And I have to remember that you can draw a kid to books (or music, or sports, fill-in-the-blank) but you can't make him someone he's not.  There's also the chance he's a late bloomer and that one day, my 25 year old son will be calling me for book recommendations.  It could happen!  (Aaron is laughing....)

Growing a well-rounded, educated child is trickier than it looks.  It's a lot of hit and miss, prayer, encouragement, and studying the child God gave you. 

 The results do not always match the effort.  But the chances are so much better when the environment is rich.  (Translation:  all the cash I drop at Barnes and Noble is worth it, right? :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm just so glad YOU love to read like I do! It is in our genes for sure!!