When Learning to Read Becomes Reading to Learn

My daughter loves to read. And she loves to read fast. So fast, she tends to finish most books in one evening.  It’s not uncommon for me to find her in her room the next morning, exactly where I left her, nose in the book she didn’t quite devour fully the night before.

Keeping up with an avid reader and providing her the right material has proven quite a challenge.  When left to her own accord, she reads every Dork Diaries and Geronimo Stilton book available. Don’t get me wrong, I love that she reads, no matter what is it.  I love when I hear her laugh out loud while reading a book. This is, after all, how she developed her love for reading. Though sometimes I feel she chooses her enjoyment books just slightly below her reading level and the more hand drawn pictures the better.  At grade 3 I’d like her to use her to start using her imagination a little more.  I want to see her savor her books.

I have been making weekly trips to the Blackstone Library, often coming home with titles she has already read and Mom can’t seem to keep up with.  When she gets home from school and sees the pile of books on the kitchen table, she starts at the top of the stack and shuffles through them saying, “Read it” “Read it” and when she hits one she hasn’t read, there is a slight grunt, as if to say, “This cover or title is just not interesting enough.”  And there my job as a mother of a self-assertive 9 year old begins.

And so we do this every week. Sometime she picks up the book and sometimes it takes a little coaxing.

So, I came home last week with Little House on the Prairie.  It doesn’t have a flashy cover or catchy title. It sounds old fashioned. Admittedly it IS old fashioned. She spent the week reading the other books I brought home, with titles such as Agent Amelia and Ivy and Bean.  All modern and funny books. The lone book, untouched, on the bottom of the stack was the book I secretly hoped would open her up to a whole new time period,  Little House on the Prairie.

But I’ve got a trick up my sleeve.  We swiftly proceed through the Sunday night bedtime routine. I read my younger son a book to his liking and excuse myself, making it clear that he is not allowed to visit during my daughter’s reading time.  I crawl in bed beside her (because that’s how we do it at our house) and we open up this mysteriously forgotten book.

For me, cracking the book was like cracking open a moment in time. A time I had only forgotten until that moment, and I savor it.  Yes, the book is slower than she and I are used to. The prose was descriptive and quiet, sometimes graphic even.  But not boring.  Crossing the prairies  in a covered wagon was certainly crazy hard.  The tone set in those scenes focused on natural surroundings and environment.  I read slowly to her. Pausing for questions and explanations about life in that time.  Something we both needed — to slow down and savor.

She told me in the morning – while still reading voraciously (even while waiting at the bus stop) that she “loved this book”.  I am grateful I made the time to read to her and I am sharing this with you in hopes that you, too, are inspired.

And by no means am I recommending that you read your children Little House on the Prairie. Any book will do. It has to be the right book for the right time and the right kid.  Know what your child is reading. Read to them. Read with them. The public library is great and costs nothing. I can’t say enough about the amount of titles available. Reading is the one certain thing you can do for your child to help them be successful learners.

If you or someone in your family needs help acquiring English reading and language skills please contact —

East Shore Region Adult & Continuing Education
185 East Main St.
Branford, CT 06405
Phone: 203.488.5693 or 203.315.6739
Fax: 203.315.5149
Email Us


2 responses to “When Learning to Read Becomes Reading to Learn

  1. Thanks

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