This is the scribbled note I wrote to myself at some ungodly hour, no doubt.
Let me share: the hubs is a volunteer firefighter. No, really. He is. Computer geek by day, fireman by night. Or maybe the opposite. Day, night, work, play, computers, fire….maybe he is always a little bit of everything. But lately, he has been a zombie because a local <unnamed> business has, at 3:45 two mornings in a row, had the fire alarm activated.
Translation: as we are sleeping ever so soundly, a radio and multiple beepers make noise. Lots of noise. Unpleasant noise. Eventually, these noisy electronic devices are turned off and are whisked out of the house with the aforementioned fireman husband. I’m left to return to bed in a very weird semi-sleep-but-semi-still-awake phase. The hubs (later that night, as we chat at dinner) laughs and questions, “why can’t you go back to sleep?” To which I state the obvious: because you’re on a fire call and still have not yet come home. In reality, I say a lot more than that, but you get the idea. And if you don’t? Well then, if you imagine it, I probably say it. Just trust me.
Absolute zombies for the past couple of days. This is why I never had more children. I wanted to return to the land of Those Who Sleep Through The Night. I’d also like to return to the land of Blogging More Frequently, so this post is an attempt to get there. Baby steps.
Baby step for today – addressing the late-night (or possibly early morning, I can’t remember) note to myself.
Read What They Want.
Actually, I’ve got a passel of reasons why I believe (and, in many cases, why research supports me) in children being not just allowed but encouraged to read what they want. Interesting that I wanted to remind myself about volume.
I’ve been thinking about it all day – this note of mine, and I wonder if my zombie-like state is more clear thinking than I realize.
We librarians do tend to like things nice and quiet, I assure you, but volume in this case does not refer to noise level as it does capacity.
And what my note means is this:
The more a child (or anyone) reads, the more proficient she becomes. Further, a child is far more likely to read more if the choice is hers.
That’s just a fancy way of saying:
Read What They Want.
Perfect sense. It works with just about anything. If you practice tennis once a week and push yourself to a schedule of playing five times a week, you’ll likely become a better tennis player. Please note I did not say: if you practice tennis once a week and your mother demands that you start playing five times a week, you’ll likely become a better tennis player. Such a statement may or may not be true. I believe, however, that if you’re playing tennis more frequently because it is your choice to do so, you’ll still come out a stronger player than the one who is playing for someone other than himself.
Same with reading.
But, but, but! I can already hear the choir of very well intentioned but concerned parents saying children need guidance and structure and quality and parameters. Yes, they do. You can provide all those things and still allow for choice. When I solicit choice, I do mean choices that are still age and content appropriate. A choice, say, from his school library? Or from her own bookshelf? Or from a big ol’ bag of books that you both went and checked out from your local library?
Don’t believe me?
Hand an elementary aged child a book that is well within her reading capabilities. You could even attempt to find a book you think she’ll enjoy. Ask her to read it for 20 minutes. See how she does. And if she makes it to the end of 20 minutes? Ask her if she’d like to keep reading.
Now. Ask this same child to select a book of her own choosing (among appropriate books, of course). Ask her to read it for 20 minutes. See how she does. And if she makes it to the end of 20 minutes? Ask her if she’d like to keep reading. And if she does keep reading? How much longer does she go for?
The more you practice free-throws, the better basket shooter you’ll become.
The more you work on your cursive, the more legible your handwriting will be.
The more you parallel park, the higher chance you’ll pass your driver’s test.
The more you read, the stronger a reader you will be.
If a child reads 20 minutes of a book that you hand to him OR reads 50 minutes of a book that he self-selected…
Read What They Want.
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com