Making the Time


Well, I guess it’s official, Washington D.C. has received the honorable title by USA Today as the most literate city in our nation. One might ask, “How would they determine this lofty accolade (I know the question popped into my mind)?”  After looking at measures for newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries, the Internet and to what extent the populations make use of them, the honor went to our nation’s capitol.

USA Today quoted researcher Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. In saying “What difference does it make how good your reading test score is if you never read anything?”

This statement got me thinking about a recent analogy regarding reading achievement made by a former colleague. It just made so much sense to me I will never forget it. It was this: You can have the absolute best swimming coach in the world. We are talking Olympic class, uber-talented. That coach can give you all kinds of direction and ‘coaching’, but if that coach does not let his/her team swim, swim, and swim some more, there is no way they will get any better, is there? The same applies to reading.

Students can have the absolute best reading teacher, but if that teacher does not provide her students the time and opportunity to read, read, and read some more, they will not get any better. In order to make this reading practice enjoyable students should be reading text at a level that they have mastered. The higher-level reading should be saved for small group instruction with a teacher or having a book read to them.

Making reading an enjoyable past time is a goal I aim for at home. I don’t want to ‘force’ my kids to read, I want them to choose to do it because they enjoy it. I also know that they LOVE for me to read before bedtime. After all, let’s be honest, their choices at that time are pretty limited, so a story from mom looks pretty appealing. I take full advantage of their undivided attention at that time of day and will not force it at other times of day. We have to realize that reading may not be the first choice of activity for all kids.

Be There Bedtime Stories can be yet another format to expose our kids to the power of a story being read to them. It can play a part in effort to make reading an enjoyable pastime, not a tedious chore. It may not be long before that child is recording and sending out their own stories. Be There Bedtime Stories is just one of many opportunities to make reading an enjoyable pastime.

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2 thoughts on “Making the Time

  1. When I taught “Lord of the Flies” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” in ninth grade Language Arts, I was flummoxed that my students – hulking, semi-threatening, almost-adult, attitude-on-legs boys and girls – wanted me to READ to them! Clearly a desire to be read aloud to is not the bailiwick of the preschool set. What was going on? Weren’t they perfectly capable of reading on their own?

    They were. And although I had to serve up reading aloud in spoonfuls and as a special treat/reward, due to curriculum demands, I found that doing so was extremely useful when starting a new chapter, thus kickstarting their reading assignment for the next class. I’d keep it to two to three pages only, stopping occasionally to clarify, check comprehension or to emphasize key passages. If time allowed, I’d plead voice burnout and ask for volunteers to continue reading – just a paragraph for the read-aloud shy ones, half a page for the voice actors in the class…and then I’d leave them hanging when it got good. I’d roll my eyes, sigh dramatically, and say, “Oh look, we’re out of time. Well, you’ll just have to read it yourselves to see where this goes…”

    And more often than not, they did. Who knew?

  2. Great strategy, Nancy. I remember my 4th grade teacher reading to us regularly from the Oz books. We went through quite a few of them during the year, and it always felt like quite a treat, even though I certainly knew how to read.

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