Dear Dr. Rene,
My second grader is a pretty good reader. She is making progress in her reading group at school but still doesn’t love books the way I loved books when I was little. I was always buried in books and had a great love of reading. Is there something more I should be doing? Might this love still develop?
Mom of two, ages seven and four
It is great she is making progress in her reading group and hopefully she is on the path to be a book worm.
The first thing to know is she is still learning to read. At second grade they are still teaching phonics and patterns and rules of reading. It may be that she is still so focused on the details and the effort of reading that she isn’t yet at a point to relax and just enjoy the story. Many children fall into loving the stories when reading to themselves a few years later.
There are several things you can do in the meantime. The first is read aloud to your children EVERYDAY. Read aloud for the love of reading, discuss the stories you read over dinner, read long and often. Read a wide variety, things they choose and things you choose. The goal is 20 minutes a day and this isn’t time to be quizzing comprehension or testing phonics, just build a love of reading and story. The National Education Association points to reading aloud as the best way to build successful readers.
Read aloud long past the point you thought you would. Children read to aloud through high school do better on verbal SATs than read to aloud through middle school and through middle school better than through grade school. Now, I know, to many parents the idea of reading aloud through high school sounds awkward, but it won’t be if you just never give it up. And be creative, if they are readers take turns by page or pick characters for each person to read about.
Also, make books available. Think books on every level of the house and some stashed in the car. Let kids stay up a little late if they are reading. Take them to browse the bookstore and the library often. Join a children’s book club. Make family projects or plan family outings based on the things they read. If you read Blueberries for Sal, make blueberry muffins. Make it fun! The love of reading should follow.