Mar
17

For the Love of Reading

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For the love of reading 
By Amanda Crecelius

I love reading. I love reading for pleasure, for current news updates, for educational purposes, for self-improvement, and tips and tricks. I love reading with my eyes and with my ears. I L-O-V-E reading. I often have a stack of books by my bedside that I have started to read, some in the living room, and at least one in my daughter’s swim class backpack. My Audible account has around 30 books on my wishlist waiting, not so patiently, for my next credit. My top two genres are Historical Fiction and Psychology. Sometimes, I read both at the same time. As my eyes move over the letters on the page or my ears tune into the tone of the reader, my mind chain links the information to various parts in my memory, my knowledge, and my experiences and it is close to euphoric. There is nothing equally as satisfying yet saddening than finishing a good book. As I look around my world, I see fellow lovers of reading and others who have little or no interest in reading at all and this baffles me. This mystery has been slowly deciphered as PATINS’ staff work our way through the LETRS curriculum, along with several social media groups and podcasts dedicated to the science of reading. Through each I am reminded that our brains have not evolved to naturally develop reading like our brains pick up the spoken language. According to the US Department of Education, most children aren’t reading until the age of seven. While speech development can be heard in the babbles of babies shortly after birth according to The Journal of Child Language

I have blocked out my own reading preparation and the challenges that I faced in a curriculum of guessing and memorization. I forget that I myself struggled with reading early on and that I still have a mini panic attack when I need to read out loud (also when I read aloud for blog recordings). Those panicked moments bring flashbacks to sentence counting, so that I could practice the words that I would be called upon to stumble over in front of a class full of excellent readers. Every now and then I come across a word that I do not recognize and I stop, pronounce each letter, and my usual response is “huh, so that’s how you spell that.” Since working at PATINS these personal experiences and the knowledge that I have gained through professional development, including the LETRS training, have enriched consultations and webinars. One of those sessions is coming up on March 30th as we discuss the overlapping literacy strategies used for English Language Learners and students with Specific Learning Disabilities. Register here.
 
Over the past few months my daughter, who is nearing the end of kindergarten, has been going through this learning process. And although she is learning through methods fueled by the science of reading, she still has to force her mind to practice and focus on rewiring itself for comprehension of the letters on the page. Frustrations can result in books flying through the air or a stalemate when it is time for bedtime reading or doing homework. 

So how did I develop the love of reading that I have now? I remember my mother sitting with a book in her hand at the kitchen table, on the sofa, in the car, at my volleyball practice, and basically any free second in her day. She read book after book, sometimes not able to put them down until she was finished. I was drawn into her passion for reading. And she filled our lives with exposure to books. She took my siblings and I to our small local library to listen to storytime and let us pick out books to take home for her to read to us. As she read the books she replicated an imagined voice of the characters, showing excited energy for each word on the page. She took us to “The Big Library” which was a two story building in New Albany, IN. For a small town girl, this library was gigantic. She let us wander around freely choosing books and playing throughout the stacks and shelves, as she worked on research. I remember checking out materials that sparked my interest from “The Babysitters Club” to the latest issue of “Seventeen” magazine, even learning Spanish via cassette tapes. Being able to obtain information in a variety of different formats opened the door to the travels, tales, and tips that made me keep coming back.  

Valuable strategies to help students with developing reading skills, include phonemic My daughter sitting on a bench with legs crossed, holding a book in front of a wooden wall that looks like a bookshelf with books on it.awareness, vocabulary building, and comprehension. These strategies build the ability to read but do not necessarily create a love of reading. A love of reading is held in examples of others reading with their eyes and ears, of others sharing their reading experiences, of connecting stories and information to student’s interests, and allowing them to choose from and float around in the sea of reading options in the different formats including read-to-me, audio, parent/teacher/peer read alouds, ebooks, captions on videos, and physical books in large, small, and braille print.

Although I value my daughter’s development of reading skills, I also want her to love to read. So tonight as the stack of Bob books (a series of simple phonetic stories that we use for practicing reading)  sit at my daughter’s bedside, I ignore them and the urge for me to rush her brain to learn all the strategies of reading. Instead, I let her dash excitedly to her bookshelf to find her favorite adventure for the evening. As I prep my character voices, we cuddle up and turn the pages to take us away to a castle or a pirate ship and I watch my daughter’s eyes light up with love.

Sources:

Oller, D. K., Wieman, L. A., Doyle, W. J., & Ross, C. (2008, September 26). Infant babbling and speech*: Journal of Child Language. Cambridge Core. 

Typical language accomplishments for children, birth to age 6 -- helping your child become a reader. (2005, December 15).


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May
14

Self-Discovery in a Reading Journal

I was talking with my friend Susan last weekend, concerning the coronavirus, social distancing, isolation. It was a fairly somber catch-up between friends whose history began when we were in 1st grade. She and I wondered what we would have done, as children, had we been ordered to socially distance? What if I had been forced by a global pandemic to stay home daily with my parents and 4 older siblings? Or Susan, with her parents and “irritating” younger brother? How would we have survived a prolonged period of not going to school, back to back with an approaching summer without our friends?

A Little Backstory:

Several of my best friends, including Susan, lived in town, a very small town where there was an all-boys military school and a soda shop. I grew up on a farm, where we had horses to ride. On many a Saturday, 2 or 3 or 4 of us would head out on horseback, with our school lunch boxes stuffed with snacks. We would ride the hillsides well into the afternoon, crossing creeks and other farms. Our only responsibility: close any gates we opened.

So no matter who went to whose house, there was fun. Adventure. Freedom. From the watchful eyes of parents, from random shootings, freedom from cyber-bullying, and human trafficking. There are so many social ills that children learn to accept and navigate now, that we never knew. The world was not perfect, but we were fairly removed from social traumas, on the streets of our little town, or riding horses over the rolling hills of Bourbon County, Kentucky. 

As we grew into our early teens, Susan and I liked to go off by ourselves and read books, often poetry, then talk about how what we read fit our lives. We couldn’t tell other friends about this, because it seemed a little weird. Our favorite poet was Rod McKuen-our balm for so much adolescent angst. We listened to the Beatles and read Rod McKuen. Children of the ’60s. 

I wish that we would have had the forethought to write down all the books we read, from childhood ‘til now. I hadn’t thought about Rod McKuen for years; I googled some poems and was taken back to those melancholy years, long conversations with my friend, savoring how we turned to poetry and music during times of trouble. It wasn’t a bad coping method. I am not wrong. Let it be.

So here is a challenge (I know, you need another one, right?) for teachers and/or parents and/or anyone who would like to promote literacy, and to help students see the value in reading, and thinking about reading: encourage your students to keep a Reading Journal.

Framework for a simple Reading Journal

1. Help the student make a list of books they would like to read. Go on Amazon and search books by reading level and write down titles and authors of interest. Or go to the public library if it’s open, and browse. Many libraries now use a service such as Overdrive, if he or she prefers accessible formats.


2. Ask the student to write down their reading goals. For instance, maybe she would like to learn all she can about NASA and the history of the civilian space program. Or he’d like to read books written by Louis Sachar because he loved the Wayside School stories. Perhaps the goal is competitive: to read more books than brother or sister. They could note the begin and end dates, to add to their sense of accomplishment. There is no wrong or right here. They could even skip the goals and just keep a reading log Someone might need to help the little ones do the actual reading and writing, but what a great habit to start! 

3. After each book is completed, have the student write their impressions. This might be a paragraph or a page or several. If a little one tells you about a book that you’ve read to or with them, be sure to record it in their journal, verbatim. Did they like the book?  Why or why not? Which character was their favorite? Some might rather just rate the books with 1 to 5 stars. Then, try to help them articulate their reasoning for the number of stars.

4. The Reading journal belongs to the one reading the books, and they might personalize it with drawings or pictures or collages. I looked at some journals that had been indexed, and many are quite artistic and elaborate. Start simply and the creativity will make its way, the journal will evolve. One who struggles with reading and writing might flourish with audiobooks or text-to-speech, and a nice set of colored pencils.

Keeping a Reading Journal would provide a natural path to the practice of writing and reflecting, and building retention of what is read. It would be a wonderful personal history, a tremendous treasure. A perfect method for Continued Learning.

And now, a few words by a poet from my past to sum up the present:

“You have to make the good times yourself
take the little times and make them into big times

and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren’t so good.”

-Rod McKuen, Listen to the Warm

Thanks so much!

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Guest — Bev Sharritt
What lovely memories, and a delightful window into your past! Any kind of journaling right now, seems like a great prescription fo... Read More
Thursday, 14 May 2020 16:14
Martha Hammond
Thank you Bev. I agree, journaling is always good and especially now.... Read More
Friday, 15 May 2020 13:57
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