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Professor Stork

Professor Stork

The Power of Reading

Last week I was talking to a small group of 5th and 6th grade children and asked what books they had read over the summer. The responses were interesting. First, they all told me how many books they had read, not giving the titles of the books, or saying anything about the books themselves. It appeared they thought whoever read the most books would win a prize (maybe they do).
I also asked about which books they liked best and for the most part the answer was “they were all pretty cool.” Finally, I asked about their favorite character in a book they read over the summer and most of them offered a clear answer, but none could explain what made that character their favorite.
It seems to me that something gets lost when the love of reading a single book somehow turns into a competition about who can read the most books. The details that allow a book to take you to a magical place get lost.
When your child is introduced to reading, it is by a parent, sibling or caregiver who chooses a book for them and reads it to them (the power of reading x2). The reader points important ideas out to them and asks questions which make them think, and gives them a better understanding of the book. Through this process children develop a true love for reading. Having consistent one-on-one time with a parent or caregiver in a very busy world is cherished and contributes equally to the love of reading that develops.
Over time children learn to read on their own and off they go. They begin to choose their own books, first with the help of family members and teachers and librarians, and eventually on their own or through recommendations of friends. As a parent or caregiver, you’ve had some of your time freed up for other important activities, but a bit of the close contact you’ve had with your child is now lost. It’s important for both of you to find ways to get this valuable time back.
A family book club does exactly that and rewards both child and caregiver in many ways. To get started ask your child what book he or she is reading or would like to read. Then ask them to share the book with you when they have finished it. Now read the book yourself. Once a month put aside a scheduled 20 – 30 minutes to discuss the book with your child. The rewards?
  1. You’ve gotten back that one-on-one time that was so integral in your child developing his or her love of reading.
  2. You can ask questions that will get your child to look a bit deeper into the content of the book and gain greater understanding of character, plot, and story development.
  3. You can begin to again influence what books your child is reading. After letting your child choose the book for the first few months suggest choosing one yourself. You’ll be surprised how quickly your child warms to the idea.
One last thought. If you have more than one child, you can expand your family book club meeting to be inclusive of all children and meet more than once a month. Meet once a month for each child and watch how your children get into adding to the conversation at each meeting.
You’ll find your family book club is a wonderful way to nurture a love of reading in your children that will truly last a lifetime.
P.S.

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