I’ve often said I’m not about reading levels for kids. I think too much stress is put on reading levels in public schools, and it spills over into other types of schooling. I’ve seen it it kill any love for books kids might develop. Reading is such a personal act, and learning it should be as organic as it can be.
When my boys were little, we could often be found curled up with a stack of picture books on the floor, reading through them one at a time and exclaiming over the pictures, studying the letters, discussing the sentence structure. But at bedtime, even when they were toddlers, I snuggled up with them and read them a chapter from a chapter book. Harry Potter. The Key to Rondo. The Narnia series. The Guardians of Ga’Hoole. A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Why? Because stories expand our minds, and I wanted my boys to learn early how to let that happen without pictures. Even I was surprised by how quietly they settled down and focused on the chapter each night, closing their eyes and letting my voice lull them. I wasn’t at all surprised by the vocabulary they picked up, the way their imaginations swelled to include new knowledge, or their high-level ability to understand complex situations at an early age. That’s what reading above your ‘reading level’ does for you.
Do you read with purpose? Do you make sure your young students are reading with purpose?
Even if your littles are reading a book or a chapter every day, even if you’re reading aloud together, sometimes we get caught up in the story or a time crunch and forget to read with purpose.
Reading with purpose is easy to do, and it’s important for comprehension and memory retention. And even though sometimes reading should be for the pure, glorious fun of it, sometimes we need to buckle down and pay close attention.
Have you ever made a time capsule?
You know, you gather a bunch of memorabilia together, stuff that is important to you or speaks to who you are as a person, put it in a box, and bury it to be found later so people of the future will get you.
We did that for my senior class in high school. Each member of the class put in one thing that represented him or her as a person and it got… buried? I don’t know. Total transparency, I think I skipped that day.
Hey, it was the last week of senior year and I was an honor roll student. I deserved a break.
Well, my delinquent shenanigans aside, I have a very cool idea today for making reading fun.
If you don’t know me by now (sing it with me, 80s babies), let’s get one thing straight.
There are two things I love about reading books.
One is that they are a pleasant way to educate yourself without falling asleep over a textbook.
The other? That’s the magic, my friends. When I fall into a good book (and my most recent are The Colorado Kid by Stephen King and All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque), I get to go somewhere else. With King I got to go to the Maine seacoast and listen to two quirky gentlemen tell a very eerie story. Without Remarque, I would never have any idea what it was truly like to be a soldier in World War I.
That’s the stuff.