Resisting the Urge to Create a Reading Superstar

These days, moms should really have the title of “Supermom”.  Not only do we have to juggle work, kids, husband, and maybe a little time for ourselves, but we also feel the pressure to make sure our kids are ready to read, if not already reading, before they begin kindergarten.  Where does this pressure come from?  Does it come from the government and their constantly revised educational standards for our children?  Are we inflicting it on ourselves?  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.  But is any of it really necessary?

Certainly we want our children to become readers.  And we want them to be successful, life-long, engaged readers.  But I’m afraid, when the pressure is too great, parents resort to drill and practice in an attempt to get their kids reading.  I know it seems so easy to pick up a workbook at the store and have kids practice their letters or sight words.  Unfortunately, this is not going to work.  In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect.  Typically kids will simply disengage from reading altogether because they were never able to connect with reading as a pleasurable experience.  I firmly believe that parents are a child’s first teacher.  I also believe that we can teach them without stressing them (or ourselves) out!  And, you don’t need an education background to do so (let me tell you that my having a degree in education has only added more unnecessary pressure – self inflicted, I’m sure)!

So instead of trying to create reading superstars, what if we just agreed to try to create readers?  Happy, healthy, engaged, and interested readers in two simple steps!  Here’s how:

  1. Read aloud every day.  Over two decades ago, Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985) concluded, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” (pg. 23).  In other words, reading aloud to our children is the most important thing we can do for them if we want to create a reader.  In his groundbreaking guide for parents, The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition, Jim Trelease stated, “The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it” (2006).
  2. Encourage children to choose their own books based on interests.  I firmly believe that choice is a huge indicator in whether or not a child will enjoy reading.  Children have so little control in their lives that choosing books is one thing they can control.  Certainly children should be able to choose the books they want read aloud to them, but consider allowing children to choose their own books when in the library or bookstore. . . even if they aren’t of the best quality or at your child’s reading level, you are sending the message that his/her choices are important.

I read to my son every day from the day he was born.  I allowed him choice in his reading materials (even when I didn’t want to read it).  We played simple games with literacy basics.  I did nothing else!  I didn’t drill him to death.  I didn’t test him on his letters, sight words, etc.  Yet, when he began kindergarten he was already reading on a first grade level.  I didn’t even know he could read!

That’s it!  No need for workbooks or drill and practice.  Just simple reading and choice in reading materials.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Resisting the Urge to Create a Reading Superstar”

  1. Lori Beverage Says:

    Thank you so much for saying, “Enough IS (in fact) enough…don’t over do it!” This is so important. So many parents are encouraged to drill and kill… which can create reading aversion. Your points are just right. Thanks for laying it plain!

  2. Kristy Myers Says:

    I agree 100% Dawn. A lot of parents don’t realize that the key is creating a “pleasure bridge” to reading. Reading can be a pleasure when it means quality time with a parent, reading something of interest or both. It was a great surprise when I realized my son was reading at a young age. When I look back to do my best to duplicate the experience for my daughter, the only prescription I come up with is to read with her and have fun. It really can be that simple.

  3. Bubbling up all over « Reading Power Says:

    […] 7. Fair use 8. Resisting the Urge to Create a Reading Superstar 9. Brainy flix – video site for vocab used in SAT tests 10. Research […]

  4. Making the Reading Connection | Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub Blog Says:

    […] Little shares “Resisting the Urge to Create a Reading Superstar” at Literacy Toolbox. Dawn says: “These days, moms should really have the title of […]

  5. Terry Doherty Says:

    Thanks Dawn … sometimes we forget how we project ourselves. If the kids see US stressing over reading, then they are going to do the same or worse yet, NOT want to do something that looks so stressful.

  6. Jen Robinson Says:

    Thanks for this post, Dawn. I love how you break the issue down to the essentials. Read to your kids, and give them choice in reading material. I agree completely. If more people could just relax and follow these simple steps, there would be a lot of engaged readers in the world. Thanks for a great post!

  7. Lauren Says:

    This is such a great post! Becoming a life-long reader results from meaningful, enjoyable experiences with great books, not from memorizing flashcards, watching videos or completing worksheets….it’s something both parents and teachers need to keep in mind as we work to instill a love for reading in our kids.

  8. Tif Says:

    Love this post!! Thank you for the reminder that getting back to the basics is just as important!! I loved to hear this as a parent who is definitely worried about the pressure associated with the need to read by a certain age!

  9. Book Chook Says:

    Hear! Hear!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: