Reading, writing, inspiring children, and travel are some of my strongest passions in life, and I want to share them with children. Working as a special education teacher, I see the importance of having good reading skills on a daily basis. School is not easy for those who cannot read, and by the middle grades nonreaders are far behind with all subject matter. It is impossible to go home and study when you cannot decipher the book or class notes. I have been privileged this school year to be able to teach a class for struggling readers and to see children’s interest and successes increase with daily reading practice. I have realized that it is not usually a desire on the child’s part to not learn to read, but that many miss early learning opportunities and get far behind while others have real disabilities that make correctly viewing letters, hearing sounds, and comprehending difficult.
I have read to my sons since birth because experts say you can never start too soon. The boys’ grandparents have always loaded them down with books, and both boys have extensive personal libraries. My mother and my husband’s mother both saved many of our old books and have passed them on to the boys. When my oldest son started kindergarten, I started using flashcards with him. He got nickels for every five words he said correctly, and he quickly learned to recognize many words. We also did phonics workbooks and internet practice pages along with attending preschool. Both boys started preschool at age two and attended until they graduated. There have also been many library visits along the way, and they always earn a certificate for summer reading program participation.
Though I have put forth a lot of effort into developing my children’s reading skills, my oldest son, now half-way through his second grade year, has never sat down to read a book on his own at home. We do homework and read together frequently. We even read over school holidays and vacations, but my boys would much rather be outside running around, playing with bows and arrows, than sitting down with a favorite book. There have been times when it has worried me, when I have won-dered if little boys sitting curled up with good books is a dream. I have calmed my worries, knowing that he is able to read well because I have heard him.
We started a new book in the Magic Tree House series the other day. My mother actually intro-duced the “Jack and Annie” books to the boys a year or so ago, and we have really grown to love them. My son will sometimes complain about the number of pages (the stories have approximately 70), but they are intriguing, informative adventures that go by quickly. We read three chapters the other night, and I told him we would save the rest for the next day because it was getting late. The next day came, and the boys lost their television privileges for fighting. It wasn’t long until Ethan had the book out, and I figured he might look at it for a minute, but he surprised both me and him-self. He got so involved in the story he decided he was going to finish it. He would come tell me about it bit by bit. He even carried it with him to read while he brushed his teeth! He finally read his first chapter book independently and understood it. Seeing it was amazing, and I was delighted that all of our practice had finally paid off. He made the choice to do it! He had a great sense of pride from his accomplishment and called all of his grandparents to share it with them. As parents and grandparents if we give them the tools, one day it will happen.
The Fairmount Library (located in the Fairmount square) is currently offering a monthly story time for kids. The next one will take place Saturday, January 9th at 10:30. Everyone is invited!