Monday, April 6, 2009
My Favorite Place...Besides Home
Where is my favorite place besides home...well, it would have to be two places, the library and a bookstore. I had an amazing moment on Saturday. I took my kids with me to purchase a present at a bookstore.
So many times when you go shopping with children it is, well to put it bluntly, a nightmare. You get the common phrases of, "Why do we have to go here?" and "Is it time to go yet?" or "I am hungry/tired/bored" and don't forget, "I need to go to the bathroom". Happily, on Saturday, I heard none of those, except, "I have to go to the bathroom" and that one was easily taken care of. The amazing part of this shopping trip occurred after we had been there for about 20 minutes. Off in my own literary world, sucking in the glorious vibes of the many books surrounding me, I looked over at my children. There they were, in the corner of the bookstore, surrounded with a large pile of books. They both were totally engrossed in the wonderful world of reading. They also were happily sharing with each other pages they had found in the respective books they had been reading.
I stood there with a huge smile on my face. I felt very proud and thought... I am raising readers. They were just as happy as I was to spend a good deal of time in a book store. For me, this is genuine success. If we look around our world we function best if we can read. You need to be able to read so you can shop, drive, pay bills and basically take an active part in society. Most jobs in the real world require employees to read something during the work day. In my job, of course, as a teacher I am teaching children how to read every day.
Another part of reading, is not just reading words, it is the enjoyment of the act. I love to read! There is a quote that I love...
"A reader is not supposed to be aware that someones written the story. He's supposed to be completely immersed, submerged in the environment." Jack Vance
Ask anyone that knows the true me, this quote describes me quite well. I become completely immersed in a story and it feels so good to be taken away.
Another aspect of reading that I love is always finding something that is written that is applicable to me or something in my life.
"Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. "
How can we raise a reader? The most important thing is to read to our children. This needs to be done from a very early age. Make this a nighttime ritual. I was raised with a Mom reading to me and my siblings at night. She introduced us to many wonderful novels in this format. We would all be lying around our living room while our Mother read aloud to us. I have also enjoyed the quite moments at night, snuggling up with my kids on the couch, reading to them their favorite books.
The next thing that is vital to this process of raising readers is, you need to show them that reading is important to you. I don't think that there has ever been a time when my kids have not seen me with a book in front of my face or under my arm. They know that this is an important part of my quiet time that is important to my sanity(and to help them have a happy Mom). If they do not see you reading, they will not see the importance or the value of reading. Our children look to us for guidance: how to dress, what to eat, how to speak and what to do with our free time. Don't be afraid to show your children that reading is important to you.
At school in my 2nd grade class, I bring my novels and read them during Silent Reading Time. It is so tempting to be correcting papers or busily doing something else in the classroom while my students are reading; but I don't. I read, and tell them that I don't wish to be disturbed during my reading time. I have stressed to them how important reading is to me and why it also should be important to them. Since the beginning of the year, when we started SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), you would be amazed at my class. If you walk into my classroom, you will find a group of 2nd graders, not making a sound, deeply engrossed in their own books. Our examples as adults can prove to be a powerful tool in influencing children to jump into the wonderful world of reading.
"It distresses me that parents insist that their children read or make them read. The best way for children to treasure reading is to see the adults in their lives reading for their own pleasure." Kate DiCamillo
Next, make books available to your children. The best place in the world to accomplish this is the public library. You can check out books for free and have a wide variety of books available. Buy inexpensive books through book clubs at school, such as Scholastic Book Club. Find some families in the neighborhood to trade books with. There are many second hand stores that also sell books very inexpensively.
"I had a very wise mother. She always kept books that were my grade level in our house. " Beverly Cleary
As I started this blog telling you about my children I will also end this blog post the same way: the moment at the bookstore discovering my children reading a pile of books. I finished my shopping and browsing through the many aisles of books and told my children that it was time to go. They both looked up at me and said, "Aw Mom, not yet. I am just getting into this book." I also heard,"I just have a few more pages Mom". I smiled even more, as I recognized the lines they were quoting to me, those are words that have often crossed my lips. They now have become a part of my children's repertoire' in speaking of their own reading habits. A job well done!