Where did the love of reading go, and how do we begin to invite it back into our children’s lives? So often, we as teachers, therapists, educators, and parents let our focus shift to what we consider to be more important elements of reading: how much are they reading, how fast are they reading, how much are they comprehending when they read, how many errors are they making when they read aloud. While it may be difficult for us to admit that these questions linger in our minds, the good news is that we can shift our focus back to where we started: the love of reading.
For the next few months, Leaps and Bounds is launching a program called The Love of Reading. It’s not a competition to see how many books kids can read or how fast. It’s a way of getting kids excited about reading for reading’s sake again. Here’s how it will work:
-Every week, when a child starts their session, their therapist is going to ask them this question: What did you read this week that you loved? For every time the child can tell us something they read that they loved, they will get a heart. These hearts will be posted on their very own “book” on our “bookshelf” (admittedly, it’s a 2D version on our wall), so that we can all celebrate together how much we as a community love to read.
-Hearts will be given for anything the child has read that they loved, and we mean anything. The reason behind this idea is simple: to get back to the love of reading, kids have to be independently excited about what their reading. So that peanut butter cookie recipe that Zoey read last week? Heart. The book about all the secrets of Minecraft that Liam hasn’t put down since he got it? Heart. The time that Samantha spends every night where Dad reads to her one chapter of ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ before bed? Heart. The knock-knock joke that Jacoby looked up online? Heart. Heart. Heart. See what’s starting to happen? We’re getting that love of reading back.
There are so many ways you can help us with this project. Yes, you! It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, a parent, a babysitter, a therapist, or a bus driver. Here are some simple ways you can help with The Love of Reading:
-Set up 10 minutes a day where your child can pick something they love to read. Whatever they want. And remember, keep this time positive. While there is a time and a place to work on reading speed and comprehension and fluency, this is not it. This time should just be about enjoying the act of reading, in whatever form that takes.
-Create a special reading corner, and fill it with things the child loves. Maybe it’s a blanket fort just for reading, filled with fuzzy blankets and soft pillows. Maybe your child wants to read to an audience of his favorite stuffed animals. Whatever it is, let’s keep it a positive and enjoyable place. We don’t want this to be a place the child dreads going to.
-Talk about things that you’ve read and enjoyed! This child looks up to you, and if you have a positive relationship with reading, that will help them see how reading can be fun and pleasurable. Which reminds us, that 10 minute reading time we were talking about? That means you too. Make it a family thing. We’re willing to bet that with all of your work meetings and PTA meetings and parent-teacher conference meetings that you haven’t taken much time to just read and enjoy it. So whether it’s catching up on a magazine or that book club book you haven’t gotten to yet, please do it. Show your child how much you love to read.
-Stop correcting so much. When the sentence says ‘The purple cat jumped onto the couch,’ and Olivia reads aloud “The purple cat jumps on the coach,” try and see what happens if you don’t automatically correct her. We know it’s hard. But what we’re guessing is that when she gets to the end of the book, she still knows what happened in the story. And you know what else? She’s probably feeling a lot more confident since she did it all by herself.
-Take a special trip to the book store and let your child pick out something they want to read. Try not to get hung up on if it’s over her reading level, or if it has too many pictures. Focus instead on the fact that your child is getting excited about reading.
Stay tuned over the next few months as we work to inspire The Love of Reading in all the kids at Leaps and Bounds. We’ll be in touch regarding more tips for how to keep the love of reading alive, and we hope you’ll let us know how it’s going. We’re so thrilled to begin this adventure with you, and we can’t wait to hear about it. But for now, thanks for reading. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!)