Castro Valley Game Library

Resources for parents & teachers

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kids like interesting books

The point:  Make sure your children have access to books that are fascinating and exciting, and they won't be able to keep their eyes and hands off of them.

The long version:  My parents had an amazing library.  They put bookshelves behind every door in the house, and the hallways were lined with bookshelves.  Unfortunately they lost their library, and everything else, recently in a fire.  But there was always something interesting to read at their house.  In fact, I used to read while I walked home from school, and when I got in trouble, I was grounded from reading.

We have always been big fans of the public library, too.  I have been reluctant to let my children check out books (last time my daughter checked out so many she couldn't carry them all by herself), and we ended up with a lot of fines when books were lost (and I was too sick to help find them).

One fun way to find books is the thrift store (like the one I don't let myself go to anymore because I started buying way too much stuff).

When I was in school I hated SRA.  It was a reading program with incentives but all the stories were super lame.  I have never been a fan of leveled readers or easy readers (Dr. Seuss and a few others excluded) because they were never books you would read if you had any alternatives (the goal was to pick words and try to force a story using those key words).

I took some college classes on teaching nonnative speakers how to read English.  Students who are just begininng to learn a language may have a wide range of knowledge about content (meaning you might only know a few words but not want to read a basic picture book).  It's the same with kids.

Find books that children want to read first.  Then help them read them.  When I read with my five year old (and last night with my 7 year old in a medical book), he reads the words he knows, and I read the other ones.  We don't spend a lot of time struggling, because too much frustration makes him lose interest in putting forth effort.  A reader needs to know about 19 out of 20 words to figure out the words from context.  Last note:  Nonfiction books are extremely important for teaching vocabulary and content.

I spent many hours reading with students in my daughter's class at school.  Several were described as hating reading and really having a hard time.  Not with me.  I told them to point to the words they wanted me to read.  After a while, the students would ask their teacher if they could read with me as soon as I arrived.  I told them they could read any book they wanted.  Instead of being stuck with the simple, contrived stories, I let them choose the stories and topics they liked, and then it was worth a little extra work.  It is valuable for new readers to hear you read aloud, too, especially when they are learning the language you are reading.

Even though my son likes to repeat the same books for days at a time, it is interesting to see which books he chooses.  He likes books with buttons that make sounds or say words.  My daughter likes books about animals, the way things work, and stories from other lands.  I make reading time very special, even if it's not very long.  We also use reading time to find answers to questions.

What are some of the ways you have encouraged reading or learned to enjoy it?

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