National Reading Month is winding down. Have you all been reading vigorously with your students? Editing this blog is really great, but in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I have not read aloud to my own children one single time this month. I feel pretty guilty about not practicing what our wonderful Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching program preaches.
The truth is, the last time I tried to read aloud to my children, who are 18 and 12 years of age, they both got up and walked out of the room. It was so much easier when they were a younger, more captive audience— either trapped in a baby seat or tucked snugly in their beds!
My favorites were “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein and “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown. Then it was “Blueberries for Sal,” by Robert McCloskey (a great one for K-2 math literacy, by the way) and White’s “Charlotte’s Web.” We read Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books out loud, too—but by that time, their attention levels were hit or miss…the kids were older and less compelled to listen to me, about anything. But I kept going…sometimes reading to myself, or even reading so loud and with such drama that they had to hear me. I still annoy them.
So you see, I am passionate, and even a little nutty about reading. My mother read to us all the time, too. It sticks with you. But don’t ask me about any “best-sellers” lists or what is “hot” right now in popular fiction. I read whatever I want—mostly things that interest me and not what someone else says I should read. I’m a little nutty that way, too.
About a year ago, I realized that I was mostly reading children’s books or non-fiction and not enough adult fiction, so I joined a book club that my brilliant neighbor-friend started. Her tastes are similar to mine, and she always has a little stash of interesting titles to offer. We gather once a month and it is lots of fun. I recommend it for anyone who feels their reading mojo is a little off kilter. Selfishly, I knew that if I was forced to read more, I would become a better writer, too. We all know these two go hand-in-hand.
On the second Tuesday of each month, I race off to a local coffee joint or restaurant after work to talk about books, and hope that by example, my children are seeing that reading should be a priority. I hope it will sink in on some level, just as the things my mother did sunk in for me. The fact that they have to fend for themselves for dinner, well let’s hope they understand that, too.
Actually, two teachers stand out for me who nurtured my love for reading. Miss Bryant in first grade, who had a sweet, almost heavenly voice that I could listen to all day. And Miss Penix in high school—who was very influential in instilling in me a keen interest for women’s literature. My club is reading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” this month, a play I read in her class at the impressionable age of 16, and I salute her.
So teachers, I confess. As a parent, I have not read aloud to my older, more indifferent children lately. But thank you for reminding us that it is important. I will do my best to promote reading in one way or another. And I know that you will, too.
P.S. We are looking forward to seeing “The Hunger Games” movie this weekend…what an amazing book for older kids and adults alike.
Need some ideas on how to encourage a love for reading in your busy classroom? Our comprehension guide has lots of strategies and tips that are worth checking out!