Reading is reading…

mangelou With the recent passing of American poet and storyteller Maya Angelou many of her quotes surfaced across the internet.  Her words are powerful and empowering.  It is this quote that I find myself turning to often as my children are becoming independent readers.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

We never actually taught Shakespeare to read.  By the time she was in first grade she was just reading, a lot.  HuskyGirl adamantly refused to even try reading until her first grade teacher, a goddess of education for so many reasons, said, “Leave her alone, I’ll take care of it.” Sure enough, by the end of the year she was devouring the original unabridged version of Heidi all on her own.  When in doubt you’ll find both of them in their rooms deep in their latest book.

But not Weezy-Jean.  Oh, she can read.  Well above grade level in fact.  But she doesn’t like to do it.  Perhaps it is just that she is a purely social creature and needs others to feed off of.  Or  she can’t stand the silence.  When she does read, we’ll hear her reading aloud to herself!  We have yet to find her “thing” either.  So choosing books for her to work through is really tough!

But then I remember Maya Angelou’s quote.  And I recall my sister.  You see in elementary school I was a voracious reader, living by the motto “A Nancy Drew A Day”.  My sister, not so much.  Until she discovered Sweet Valley High books.  By following the adventures of twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in their Fiat convertible she made “a habit of reading”.  My parents encouraged her to read for enjoyment.  Because in the end that’s what reading should be, fun.  As an adult she is a avid reader, more diversely well-read than I’ll ever be.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

Forming habits, good or bad ones, takes time.  In order to really excel you need to practice.  Reading is really no different.  For a period of time Weezy-Jean was really interested in The Rainbow Fairies books.  These were the bane of my existence.  I really thought my brain was going to explode if I had to read another one aloud.  My husband and I would battle to the death just to get out of being the reader.  Each story is EXACTLY THE SAME as the rest in the series.  Just change the name of the fairy.  So why are they so popular?  Why do they, and their counterparts, span series that fill rotating racks at the library?  Because they allow kids to practice reading.  Yes, the stories are often regurgitated nonsense.  But our kids are looking for comfort and familiarity as they practice the skills they need to be successful readers.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

So I take a different approach with Weezy-Jean.  When we go to the library to load up on books she can pick whatever she wants.  I let her browse, and select based on her desires at that moment.  No longer do I suggest based on the merit, “Your sister loved this book….”.  I want her to create a habit of reading and that means she needs to enjoy it, on whatever level that is.  Which is why for several months this winter her nightstand was littered with Adventures of MaryKate and Ashley books.   She will learn great literature, work on comprehension, have guided reading, and be assessed at school.  In our house, reading is reading, and any book that you enjoy reading, helps you practice reading, and makes reading FUN is welcome here.

Thank you Dr. Angelou for reminding me of that

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *