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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Raising a Reader

Teaching the joy of reading and the magic of learning is, I feel, our greatest gift as educators. As a parent, I have been witness to incredible moments of disbelief and awe when it comes to my own 2 sons, Liam and Bryce. They are, indeed, sponges as the saying goes, and my wife and I have tried to instill in them a love of reading that will build a foundation of learning success.

On the weekend, we took a trip to the Barrie Public Library - one of their favourite things to do. My wife came across a storybook called "Bony Legs" and remembered it from her own childhood. She put it into the bag of goodies to be signed out and we were homeward bound. She read the story to our youngest son, Bryce, twice in the next few days.

Bryce has entered the "pre-reading" stage and is constantly asking to "read" to us - or his 5-year-old brother, Liam. He uses the pictures as evidence and describes what he sees to us. He offers reactions like, "this is the funny part," and "isn't that weird?" He has already learned to interact with the text, use its features to improve his understanding and to celebrate and share in his "reading" to truly enjoy the experience.

He proudly carries out this adventure and is so delighted with himself, when he has us as a captivated audience. What a terrific thing to be a part of.

So, how can we make sure that we are "raising readers" in a positive and supportive manner? Here's what I think...

1. Celebrate everything in the stages of reading as worthy of your attention and feedback. "Wow, that's such an interesting ending." "What do you think will happen next?" "How do you feel when you read to mommy and daddy?" "I really like how you used the pictures to figure out what's happening!"

2. Recognize the process of reading. It doesn't happen overnight, and therefore, should be constantly done and discussed in order to progress. Our future readers are "reading" their world far before they sound out words and vocalize sentence structures.

3. Reading is life. This is a skill and talent that will carry your son, daughter, or student throughout their lives. They will dramatically improve given attention, support, feedback and questions. Frame each response and comment you make as an opportunity for them to dazzle you. Don't be satisfied with one word answers, dig deeper and find out what they think just as much as you expect to hear what they know.  

In the end, this is one of the greatest journeys they will ever make...and you will hold their hand through it all and guide them into their potential for learning - and life.

How do you "raise" readers - whether your own children or students you teach? 

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