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What Does Your Child’s Teacher Believe about Lifelong Reading?

What Does Your Child’s Teacher Believe about Lifelong Reading?

No one argues the value of reading.  For decades, research has linked reading with academic success, college graduation, and job advancement.

In fact, being an avid reader is the only extracurricular activity known to increase the likelihood of a person having a professional or managerial position by his early 30’s.

While no one disputes the benefits of reading, educators do disagree whether readers are born with a bent towards stories or if bookworms are created through instruction, modeling, and practice.

In short, is reading a trait or a skill?

Granted, this distinction sounds small – a “he says tomato, she says tomahto” dispute – but a teacher’s perspective on reading makes all the difference in how much class time she’ll devote to promoting habits that turn a child into a lifelong reader.

With this in mind, ask yourself these questions:

Does my child’s teacher allow time for in-class reading? Just as a child must practice to master any skill, the reader gets stronger with daily practice. Readers practice reading, and that means 20 minutes to an hour of reading a day.

Does my child have a classroom library? Readers need easy access to books. A child surrounded by a well-stocked library spends 60% more time reading than a child without a classroom library. Also, the chance for a child to participate in literacy-related activities more than doubles from 4 interactions to 8 ½ interactions when he is close to books.

Does my child have a choice in what he reads? When a child selects his own reading material, he becomes an engaged and empowered reader. He learns what his taste is in books and the types of stories that interest him.

Does my child’s teacher read? Does she share what she reads with her classroom? Readers need a reading community. When a child hears a teacher describing a book she enjoys, then she demonstrates to him that reading is not just for school, showing him that reading matters in the lives of the adults around him.

Did you say yes to those questions? If so, your child’s teacher likely sees reading as a skill and her classroom as a greenhouse to create the habits for lifelong readers.

If you mostly answered no, then your child’s teacher may see her class bookworms as “born readers”, preferring to stress critical reading rather than pleasure reading.

Whether your child’s teacher believes reading is a trait or a skill, you can inspire your child to develop lifelong reading habits by creating a book-rich home, allowing him to choose books that he wants to read, and encouraging him to read daily.

Then when you share what books excite – and bore – you, he will know, without a doubt, how much you believe in being a lifelong reader too.

What do you think? Are children born bookworms or can they can develop a love of reading? I’d enjoy reading what you think. Just add your comments below.

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Why I Like Pink and Blue Books

thelittlegirlstory As a child, my sister and I fought for ownership of a pink Hallmark book called The Little Girl Story by Dean Walley.

The illustrations by Arlene Armacost and Gloria Nixon show a wispy girl, tiny, as befitting the title, who was forced to stand on a stool to wash dishes, yet could crawl inside her doll house and fish pickles out of jars too small for bigger hands. photo 3

I can’t speak for my sister, but I longed to be like this petite girl who wore pink.

I’ve been thinking about that book, and how much we adored it, as I’ve read about the UK based campaign, Let Books Be Books, which wishes to reduce the number of gender-specific books.

This movement created an online petition asking publishers “to take the label off books and let children choose freely which types of stories and activity books interest them.”

usbornecookingforgirlsusborneillustratedclassicsforboys

Some UK publishers quickly acquiesced.

Usborne, with titles like Cookbooks for Girls or Illustrated Classics for Boys, have agreed to re-title and re-market their books so they are gender neutral.

While other publishers have balked.

Michael O’Mara, chairman of the family owned Buster Books, told The Independent, “It’s a fact of life how a very large percentage of people shop when buying for kids, do it by sex. We know for a fact that when they are shopping on Amazon, they quite often type in ‘books for boys’ and ‘books for girls’.”

Colouring books for girls and boys

 

What Mr. O’Mara says is true in the U.S. also. It’s a buying habit I’ve seen often with parents who are literate, but don’t read.

In my experience, these parents value reading, seeing it as the cornerstone for their child’s education, yet they don’t read themselves.

As in 5, 10, 15 or 25 years of not picking up a book.bookfacts

That doesn’t mean they don’t want books for their children and grandchildren. They do, but when they shop for books they navigate towards what is comfortable: the pink and blue books.

You see, I’m not against using less pink or blue to identify books, nor am I against fewer stereotypes on book covers.

And, c’mon on. It’d be hard not to notice the “pinkification” going on in the children’s department over the last two decades.

But I also work with or live among people who make purchases based on these criteria, and my heart is soft toward them.

I don’t want them to feel more confused when selecting a book. I don’t want them to feel more awkward when pulling their son or daughter, granddaughter or grandson into their lap to read a story. And, I definitely don’t want them to feel ashamed for selecting a pink or blue book.

Picking a book is easy for me, and others who read frequently, because books are friendly and lovely, full of opportunities and adventure.

That’s not the experience many families have though.

So, while I do believe de-emphasizing the “pinkness” and “blueness” from the shelves is a reasonable request, I hesitate to throw my full support into the idea because I don’t want all the pink and blue books to disappear or for there to be a public consensus that buying these books is wrong.

Because if those pink and blue books disappear or the parents and grandparents are shamed away from purchasing them, then I worry those children and grandchildren won’t receive a book at all.

And, that, truly, would be a terrible ending to the story.

P.S. And, if my sister happens to be reading this, then remember possession is nine-tenths of the law. The Little Girl Story is mine. All mine.