Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reading Goals

A book is a garden carried in the pocket.
-Chinese Proverb

Reading is one of the most magical and useful skills we can teach our children. It allows us to be productive, competent, and informed citizens. It also gives us the freedom to learn anything our hearts desire. It is an outlet to escape real life and visit imaginary worlds. Through reading, we can gain insight to what others think and feel.

One of my hopes as a parent, is for my children to love the written word. I'm confident they will learn how to read, that is almost a given in today's society. But will my children have a passion to seek out written media in their spare time?

My husband, Paul, has that passion. Frequently I find him reading news on the internet or perusing the newspaper. He loves to end a day by devouring a good book. The ultimate relaxing activity for him is a book and a bath.

I read tons, but somehow I lack Paul's level of passion. Sure, I love a good book when I have the time and the energy. I love being able to search for information on any topic at any time, thank you internet. I know I am a lifelong learner. The difference between Paul and myself, is I don't make the time like he does. I don't frequent the news sites throughout the day, yes, I'm hanging my head in shame. I don't reserve energy at the end of the day to read the novel I've been picking at for months.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not devoid of reading desires. Obviously, I'm reading. There are stacks of child development books that I've read several times and continue to thumb through seeking advice. Novels line our bookshelves, some I've read, most I hope to read. And well, I read numerous blogs each day. But most importantly, I read to my children. I read to them before nap time, before bed, and during play time. I hope to instill a passion for reading in my children.

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books.... Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
-Horace Mann

Paul and I surround our children with books. Cloth books and board books fill the shelves in the downstairs play area, as well as the upstairs bedrooms. We keep the paper books that easily tear in a basket upstairs, utilizing them especially at nap and bedtimes. Frequently, I find Ian or Laurel surrounded in piles of books they have taken down from the shelves, flipping through the pages of the one that catches their interest. It delights me that they play with books.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Jennifer, at her blog Snapshot, challenges all child care providers to set an attainable goal in reading with children. Here are some goals for our family:

  • *Once upon a time, we would go to the library about once a week. Since the holidays, we have not gone. YIKES! I'm setting the goal for us to visit the library once a week.
  • *Laurel tends to be too tired to read with us just before bedtime. I would like to make sure she gets to hear a couple books before falling asleep. I am going to set the goal of starting her nighttime activities with reading books instead of trying to do it just before she goes to sleep.
  • *When I taught, I read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Based on research, he gives reasons for reading to/with our children, along with tips and recommended book lists for different aged children. I want to reread his book, and will be checking it out at the library (hopefully it's available) when we go this week.
Three goals is a good place to start. Once I have these under my belt, I may add more.

We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.
-B. F. Skinner


Anonymous said...

My parents read to me from a very early age and I remember going to the library every Saturday when I was younger and being so excited to select my books for the week. That "habit" stuck with me as I got older and I still go every 2 weeks for a new book. I don't have the time/energy to read as much as I once did, but I still love it.

I have read to Morgan from the beginning. Some nights, we don't do her bedtime story ("Goodnight, Moon") but, we read books throughout the day and it makes me smile to look over at her while she's playing and see her digging through her book basket and "reading" on her own.

I've looked into story time for her, but my local libraries allow story time for children 18 months and older :(

Wow...sorry this is so long. I really just wanted to say I agree on the books...I think it's great that your kids love them as much as their parents do :)

Guinevere Meadow said...

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog. You're absolutely right, reading is key to kids' development! I'm a teacher-in-training, all I have to complete is my student teaching before becoming a fully certified teacher. Reading with kids is a passion of mine, too. I'm sad to say I haven't started reading to my baby boy yet, he's 2 1/2 months old, but I think I'll be starting very soon. :)

Elizabeth said...

Great advice. Thanks!

Lady M said...

Hooray for reading! Having my own library card was a very exciting thing as a child. The children's cards only allowed two books at a time, so my mom would check out the rest of a stack for me.

I love the picture of Ian in his green & blue footy pajamas, holding Jamberry. Q has the same outfit and book!

Kurt said...

Bravo on the books at home policy! I concur that books are a need not a want. I was surrounded by books of all kinds when I was growing up.

And, much to my Dad's chagrin, the first thing I read on my own (with a little help from him, of course) was a Spiderman comic book. I'm sure he was thrilled I was starting to read no matter what the material.

Jennifer said...

I ordered the Trelease book and got it a few days ago. It's so great!

Mama's Moon said...

I am now completely inspired to read much more than I do to my kids. Lately I feel like I've been slacking off and only reading to them bc I have to. That's not a lesson I'd like for them to remember (and follow!). So, I'm looking for that read-aloud handbook, making a point to visit the library once a week, and definitely incorporate reading during our playtimes! BTW, I love the quotes you've included in this post!

Anonymous said...

Going to the library every week is such a great goal! It is fun for everyone. I love the pictures. Cute!

mo-wo said...

It makes me sad.. not make that mad.. that a lot of parents are not informed to understand reading. They hold off on giving kids books because they don't know how to handle them??


Do you not give your baby solid food because they can't use a spoon?

Learning to read is a messy and wonderful business. You put it really well here.

ps. My husband is the best reader I know.. and that's embarrassing for me as a librarian.

Heidi said...

What a wonderful post! I too read as much as I can to my son and he loves to sit and look at books by himself. I agree there is room for improvement here as well...I'll be making some goals for us too! Thanks - beautiful quotes too!

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

We try to get to the library every week. It's always a fun trip and I'm continually surprised by the boys my boys pick. It gives me a sense of who they are becoming!