Raising Readers

[This is a guest post from Alison Kerr.]

Reading. It’s the thing that almost everyone recognizes as critical for educational success, but it’s also part mystery. When it comes to raising a kid who is a good reader, or raising reading scores in a school system, we’re left wondering whether anyone has the answers.

How to Raise a Reader

Are sight words or phonics approaches more effective? Which books do kids need? What about training for teachers? Despite the confusion, it’s all really simple when it gets down to how parents can, and do, raise readers.

To raise a reader is elementary. You don’t need your kid to go to the best school. You don’t need a degree in education. You just read aloud to your kids. But then this isn’t exactly news.

The National Reading Panel

Way back in 1985, when today’s young parents were just infants, the National Reading Panel analyzed more than ten thousand research projects and came to the startling conclusion that, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for essential success in reading is reading aloud to children.”

Reading According to Jim Trelease

Now I just happen to be a seller of children’s books and you might be excused for thinking that I’m trying to sell a few more books to parents. Don’t take my word for it. I’m writing about this because in July last year I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Jim Trelease . In fact Jim was persuaded out of retirement to talk to the group I was part of.

When it comes to reading aloud, Jim Trelease has a lot to say. His book The Read-Aloud Handbook has sold over one million copies. He inspired a reading program as far away as Poland, with over 1,400 schools reading aloud to kids every day. I wish you could hear Jim talk live, but, since you can’t, if you want to know more about what he has to say just go on over to his site Trelease on Reading. Jim has a wealth of information there.

Start Reading Aloud – Don’t Stop

There you have it parents, start reading today and don’t stop. Read to your unborn baby, read to your infant, read to your toddler, read to your preschooler, read to your kid, and even read to your teen. You can even read to your partner, your parent, grandparent, or elderly neighbor. Just don’t stop reading, ever.

Reading is, and should be fun. If it’s not fun, you’re reading the wrong stuff. And if you want some help on what to read, I have some ideas about how to choose books.

[Alison Kerr lives in Eastern Kansas with her two teens, two cats, and her cowboy-hat-toting husband. She plants vegetables, devours books, homeschools, dines with her family, hikes Kansas prairie fields in the heat of summer, cools off in creeks, and invites nature into her garden. Alison encourages reading as well as sharing about nature, gardening, and sustainability through her writing at Loving Nature’s Garden.]

Image: rankun76 at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

2 thoughts on “Raising Readers

  • April 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    This is easy to follow advice, but I see parents failing in this regard, and I do not know why. I have always read to my children. My only problem is that I cannot read a book for myself anymore. When the little ones spot me reading, they run to get books, and sit in my lap for another reading session. Who am I to say no?

  • April 7, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Frank, that’s a great story. You’ll just have to become a “closet” reader if you want to read for yourself!

    I agree with you, I’m not sure why some parents don’t read to their kids every day. Maybe someone who doesn’t can comment and teach us.
    .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..Back Yard Make Over – Step 1 =-.


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