A Quote and a Question

Warming up


We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.

B.F. Skinner


How do you inspire a love of reading, a boldness, a sense of passion for the written word?

(I’ll put my current plan in the comments.)

13 thoughts on “A Quote and a Question

  1. Sarah says:

    In addition to 3 readaloud sessions per day, one in the evening as a family, we also model a love of reading as parents. But just now we need more.

    Right now Tias needs to be encouraged to be brave and confident in his reading. He is intimidated as soon as he sees a page with a lot of text. He tricks himself into thinking he can’t. He needs a little inspiration to get over this mental block.

    I have offered him money. I know, I know. But it’s just a mechanism to springboard him over his definition of the possible. For two weeks, he’ll get $5 per ‘chapter’ book. There are still pictures on most pages in these 4 books I’ve laid out for him, but the page is much more crowded with black text than he feels confident in tackling.

    • Sue says:

      Wow, there are ways other than (or as well as?) money. The first thing that occurs to me is my daughter’s issue, which is not the quantity of type, but the leading (spaces between the lines). This can really be a challenge even for adults…. it is painful to read if the lines are too close together. Try to find books with tons of space between the lines.
      Secondly, to get your child up to the next level (chapter books?), how about sitting with them, and doing “I read a paragraph”, “You read a paragraph”. I believe that is an encouraging way to approach it. You know he can read it, show him.
      Thirdly, find some amazing boy books!!!!! Ones he’ll die to read. I rely on many children’s treasuries to find good books for them to read. For instance, Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook, Valerie & Walter’s Best Books for Children and many others I get out of the library.

  2. grace says:

    So funny you should ask this today. I “caught” my just turned 6 year old with her lamp on reading last night an hour after bed time and then again in the MIDDLE of the night! She said, “but Mama, I just can’t help it. I love reading”. It is hard to turn the light out on that.

    Now that she can read some chapter books by herself she loves it. She has been reading the Little House jr. chapter books and also the Magic Tree House series. I wasn’t sure if she was comprehending it until she asked me the other morning if the Titanic was a real boat and if it really hit an iceberg and sank.

    My strategy has always been to read to my girls alot. We read everyday. We read just for fun books, history books, school books – whatever. I started teaching my oldest to read as soon as she showed interest. The best teaching books I have found are the Pathway Reader series, written for Amish children. An accompanying workbook goes with them and teaching her to read was a breeze. (I don’t know that it will come so easy with daughter #2).

    Reading is the gateway to learning in my opinion. So, we focus on it to build a foundation for later learning and lifelong enjoyment of reading.

    Great question and quote – thanks.

  3. Maritza says:

    We read all different types of books aloud all the time. My two daughters and I take turns reading and listening. Even though they are both excellent independent readers, they still enjoy our almost nightly reading aloud ritual. A great book on this subject is Raising Lifelong Learners by Lucy Calkins.

  4. Kika says:

    We started young, reading aloud one/two novels per month and make regular visits to the library and Chapters/garage sales looking for great books. My kids get extra time to stay up if they’re in bed reading. My son has always loved (unabridged) audio books (he’ll draw or build lego while listening) and this introduces him to fabulous writing, characters and vocabulary while respecting one of his learning preferences. He is intimidated, too, by more challenging texts and the past two years, something which has helped has been for he and I to read novels simultaneously, discuss them and watch the movie together once the book is read (ex. Lord of the Rings trilogy). I definitely model a love of reading and my husband, the reluctant reader, finally decided to “join the party” last summer… although he is still learning to read fluently in English, his third language.

  5. Nicole says:

    I think we’ve done (and continue to do) all of the things you do, Sarah, including the money! This school year my girls were able to choose titles from an extensive, age-level appropriate list (one for each) and read whatever they wanted from it from August to May. They got one dollar per book read and were paid in 5 dollar increments. The older HAD to read at least 8 for the year and the younger at least 5. Both succeeded with that goal quite easily, but it was the bare minimum of what I expected. Other than that, I told them they could earn as much as they liked during the school year. I feel my plan was successful, even if they didn’t cause me to go broke! 🙂

    During the school year (as you may remember, we homeschool too), they read 30 min mandatory each day. That was about it for my younger, but the older reads a lot. I guess I shouldn’t say that Eve, my younger, DOESN’T read. They both like manga-style graphic novels a LOT and gobble them up. But Eve has not yet found a love of just reading novels for pleasure like her older sister does. It took time, though, for Maia to come to this place of reading novels. We really had to find the genre she liked which is a mix of fantasy and adventure: the more absurd, the better (hence her love of Miyazaki films). While Eve doesn’t balk at the text, she does at the overall size of the book and responds similarly to Tias. After reading your post, I think we’ll continue with the 30 min a day. Maybe we’ll all take books and a blanket out in the shade. We’re still finishing up Great Expectations aloud, and I’ll have to make a point of doing just that.

  6. Rabia says:

    Having lots of books around, frequent read-aloud sessions and trips to the library and bookstore, watching the parentals read…

    I hope that’s all it takes!

  7. Lisa says:

    I LOVE the photo–what book does he have.

    You do all the normal “right” stuff. I pay my kids for their reading–it reinforces that education IS their job. It still doesn’t get my son to read!! My suggestion is to break all the laws and photocopy a book that’s appropriate. Cut it up into 3 x 5 or 5 x 7 cards and give him one card a day. He CAN ask for another card, but doesn’t have to. [It could be one card am, one pm, one bedtime if you like] You could even pick an older one online and manipulate the text into an easy-to-read size or color, or put in an occasional hidden message [i.e. If you’ve read this far, come get an extra yogurt, or gameboy time or whatever his “currency” is]. This can “trick” him into getting thru a harder book or one that you want him to read OR one he chooses.

    My son, at his age, “couldn’t” read “busy” pages–like most school textbooks. Too much stimulation–he didn’t know what to read/where to look. Plain text alone in black and white helped him tremendously.

    It does hurt reluctant readers that the stuff at their silent reading level is often just plain stupid or boring. You might try books aimed at adult “new” readers. They do tend to have lots of pictures though.

    Does he like to listen? Read one, then you can pick one to listen to on cd/mp3 etc??

    I’m dealing with homeschool rejection–my beautiful, bright daughter wants to go back to the icky rural public school…. light a candle or think some good thoughts for us, ok?

  8. Sarah N. says:

    We have at least two read-aloud sessions a day with a mix of picture books and chapter books. We just finished The Penderwicks yesterday. We frequently listen to audio books in the car. We just took a long drive and listened to several disks of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. My husband and I both read a lot and talk about what we’re reading.

    I’ve been having my daughter read to me for 10-15 minutes a day. She’s reading books like Young Cam Jansen and Mr Putter and Tabby. She also balks when she sees lots of text and decides it’s too hard even if most of the words are quite familiar. I’ve been asking her to read several lines (around half a page) and then reading the rest of the page. I’m hoping to build up her confident so she will try silent reading. Right now she doesn’t trust herself to read on her own. I’m hoping the more she reads to me the more confident she’ll get.

  9. Anne/Navhelowife says:

    With my youngest, we often duet read – I read a page or three, then he reads some, then I read …until he is hooked on the story line. We also listen to books on CD – especially ones they might not pick up on their own. Also, my kids enjoy the Geronimo Stilton books – we listened to them first and then read some,and they enjoy them. Chapter books…but short chapters!
    And sometimes it just takes awhile. Youngest will sometimes not finish a book, middle kid went from not reading chapter books to all of a sudden reading them…like in a period of two weeks, after I had despaired of him ever reading anything else.
    Oldest reads quite a bit, but he’s 14 and into science fiction, etc. He still doesn’t like to be told *what* to read, which is a problem…

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I have been very fortunate, as both of mine have always loved books and learned to read without any problems. Even before they read them, they would study the pictures for hours. We started to do read alouds from day 1. Have to admit, my husband thought I had gone a bit loony–but he quickly saw how they gravitated to the spoken word.

    We’ve always done read alouds for bed time, and when they ask, I read any book they bring me. We don’t do formal read-alouds. Hazel took off with a vegence with her reading, and can easily handle the unadbridge versions of Little Women, etc… She reads the second she gets up, and has a book in her hand anytime she can during the day. Kieran is doing the same now–I’m sure it’ll continue to develop into full blown literature in no time. His big concern is the length–so I’ve found him some abridge versions–and even he has read Little Women, to an extent!

    I never worried if Hazel understood what she was reading–just so long as she was enjoying her own choices is all that counts. I very clearly remember rereading books when I was younger–and that I always found some word or other in the story that I suddenly understood the meaning of. I’d just skim over things I didn’t understand and just get on with enjoying the story.

    But as most have done–I think having parents who love reading, parents who willingly read to the children, having a huge variety of stories and endless trips to the library will help.

    I find nothing wrong with an incentive program. Tias has had far more to overcome to get to this stage than many children. I’m all for anything that’ll get them started–because once they get hooked–there will be no stopping them!

  11. Sarah says:

    We have an interesting situation at our house. My husband sees very little value in books and would rather relax in front of Simpsons while I have to stop myself from reading late into the night. We have a running joke that in my house if the kids were caught playing we were brought inside to read and in his house if they were caught reading they were sent outside to play. My husband cannot remember her reading to them when they were kids.

    It’s not to far from the truth. When we were dating, we went to his house and while everyone else was busy (it was in the evening and the brothers were all out in the shop fixing a tractor), I was relaxing on the couch reading. His mom was so worried that I was sick. Why else would I be reading? Even with my reassurance that I was fine, she pulled my then-boyfriend aside later that evening and told him to keep an eye on me because I wasn’t feeling well.

    All of that to say that the reading in this family mainly happens with me. It’s sad to me when the girls bring him books and he says ‘Let’s watch a movie instead’.

    I read to the girls every night and throughout the day as they bring me books. When Hannah discovered the Little House books, there was a bit of a binge for awhile. The bottom shelf in each bookshelf is for the kids, I have an upright magazine type shelf that books can go in with their covers out (adds a lot of visual interest), and baskets in each room (started out for the ease-of-cleaning aspect and kept because it’s been fantastic for encouraging reading). I also trialed reading to them while they ate breadkfast after I read about it on your blog and we’ve kept that – they really enjoy it.

    We go to the library every other week, sometimes once a week. It’s twenty-five minutes away (down from an hour away since we moved), since it’s in our nearest city. We tried the rural library, but it was mostly romances and … well, romances. Nobody was overseeing the librarians purchases. It didn’t have a great kids library. Mostly licensed character books (Disney, Clifford, etc.). Since we have to pay no matter where we go, we picked the larger library.

    They see me reading whenever I get a chance, though my reading seems very boring to them, and ‘whenever I get a chance’ quickly disappears when they see me doing it because that reminds them about reading and then I end up with a pile of books on my lap and little bodies curling in around and on me. Not that I’m complaining. I feel that time slipping away too fast already.

  12. Meredith says:

    We have multiple read aloud times throughout the day as well, lots of picture books for my youngest (he’s 4) and my voracious 13 yo girl can read all of us under the table on any given day, LOL! My two middle boys love both to be read to and read on their own, although the 7yo is still working through a reading series with me for proficiency. We are constantly surrounded by books and we read alot for both learning time and for pleasure. The biggest challenge for us is the TV as well though, I’d love to ditch it personally, but alas we wouldn’t have our Food Network or Fox News 😉

    Happy summer reading!

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