Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading Concerns

I'd be lying if I said that I'd never experienced concerns over B's reading, because I did and I think for many home schooling parents this is the one area that they stress over. What if I can't teach my child to read? Where does that leave us in our home schooling journey?

Thankfully for most home schooling families this concern quickly resovles itself and even if it does take a little time in the end it is, in the majority of cases, resolved and the child grows into reading.

So then, once they are reading you need to deal with the battle of what they 'will' read and what you'd prefer them to read. Does anyone else struggle with this? 

We've all seen the articles and blog posts galore on 'twaddle' and what it potentialy does to children's minds. However if we are making our children read the classics for instance even if they have absolutely no interest in the story then is that really any different?

Granted we may feel better about ourselves and yes we can rattle off to our home school friends that little 'Freddy' just got through his 9th classic for the year, whilst all of the other home school mums look on in awe, but was has that done for 'Freddy' and his desire to read?

Would you as an adult continually read books that held little interest for you simply because, say, your husband said you had to read them? I think not! So I wonder why we do this to our children? What makes it ok?

Admittedly I would much prefer to see my children reading quality literature most of the time but when a child has struggled with reading, is it not more important that they are at least reading?

I found this article interesting and this blog post written in response to the article, both offer food for thought.

For me, for now, I am happy to see him carry around a book and have his nose in it, regardless of the 'twaddle' it may very well contain.


Ticia said...

I think I agree more with the second post. That's the more likely reason to my mind why people aren't reading, that whole laundry list of them. TV and the like is just convenient excuse.

I have mixed feelings on the whole "twaddle" thing, are those classics worthwhile? Yes, are they for everyone? Maybe. Are some books really not good for your child to read? Yes, I do agree that Captain Underpants and the like is something I don't want my child to read, but that's because I know there are other very exciting books that we can get them to read.

But, in the end it's up to your family's taste, I just don't like Captain Underpants, or most shows on Cartoon Network, for that matter.

Joyful Learner said...

I had a student in my class who aced all his exams and excelled on standardized tests. He always had Captain Underpants in his hands. It was that or Pokeman cards. I can't say if there's any correlations but my guess is that he's interest in reading led to more reading. I don't believe in restricting a child's interest but I would also introduce quality literature to give more food for thought.

Thanks for linking to the Thinking Mother. I used to read her blog but have lost her blog for some time.

Karin Katherine said...

Much has been written in recent months about allowing boys to read twaddle to improve their reading skills. One of the things I always told our boys was that when they learned to read they would be able to read whatever they wanted (which was, at the time, comic books on super heros) but that Mama only read literature she wanted to read for story time. That was the way I gave them a good foundation in classic children's literature.

Now, I'm proud to say, that while they do enjoy reading comic books---they have now moved on to books that any mother or home educator would be proud to see her child read. I think if your goal is so strengthen reading skills then you let them read whatever they want---and lots of it.

Anonymous said...

I definitely strive for balance between the so-called "twaddle" and classics. If my son has no interest in a book, we definitely drop what we are doing. Just like I did not want to force myself to read certain books in highschool, I won't force him to read anything that he doesn't want to read. I ask him to try, but if he tries and doesn't like something, I have no problem with letting him move on to something else.

ChristineMM said...

Thanks for linking to the longest ever blog post I wrote. I worried it was so long no one would read it.

Looking back now reading harmless twaddle to oneself is okay. I am against read alouds of twaddle though. Kids do move on. And if they hear better stuff read aloud they will learn that better or other good reading material is out there.

I also point out the book is always better than the movie. So although my kids love some movies they seldom love a movie made from a book when they read the book first. That's a good thing to learn that books are sometimes great and can't be converted equally into a fast consumed movie.

Have a great day.

ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother

Evenspor said...

My dad once said to me that he couldn't understand people who said that they don't like to read. To him that's like saying they don't like air or water. That was the attitude I was raised under. I grew up knowing that I was named after a character in a book, for crying out loud.

Yet I don't remember my parents ever dicating to any of us what to read. They gave us books, of course (I have fond memories of time spent at "The Paperback Trader"), but whether we read those books, comic books, literature or the National Geographic, it didn't really matter. My sister read romance novels and mysteries, my brother collected graphic novels, and I read Babysitters Club and novels based on movies. As we got older, I think we picked up more "literature," things our parents had on the shelf or we were assigned in school.

The result of all of this, though? Five adults who see reading and books to be as much a part of life as water or air.

I honestly don't know much about Captain Underpants or Goosebumps, but I know I don't mind comic books. As long as the kids are enjoying reading and are self motivated, at least they're getting practice, and at this age I think frequent reading that they enjoy is the most important thing. In fact, for bedtime stories my husband rotates between the picture books we get from the library, Calvin and Hobbes, and Akiko. Listening in, I have heard Beeper get exposure to plenty of good vocabulary words from the latter two. The first big "chapter book" Beeper finished as a read-aloud (with his dad) was the complete volume of Bone (comics). I will be both impressed and worried if one of my kids ever picks up a volume of Cerebus comics (impressed because it's difficult content, worried because there are some questionable things in there).

Now I do think as homeschooling parents it is important to expose them to quality literature and non-fiction through both read-alouds and making the books available to them (as well as setting an example reading good books) but I wouldn't force a book on a child. Honestly, I actually read very few of the "required" reading books in any of my English classes in high school. But I read plenty of other good books.

Working Through said...

I read most classics aloud, until the high school level. If my children have no interest, we put them up and try again later. As for the children's personal reading, I always allow them to pick and choose.

Michelle said...

I have mixed feelings, but like everyone else I think it's boils down to finding balance. For a kid who likes to read, I try to hide the twaddle and steer them to the good stuff as much as possible (and that doesn't just mean classics, there are plenty of well-written modern tales); however, for a reluctant reader I just throw the word "twaddle" right out the window until they're older or develop a love of reading. I remember when I taught in a classroom how many parents complained that their little boys never read or they "weren't readers," and I reminded them that of course they are readers! I saw those little boys reading dirt bike magazines every day, and YES that counts. The parents were shocked to hear this coming from their child's English teacher, but once they let go forcing them to read "serious" books during their free time, the kids were much more inclined to want to read after just a few months of relaxing the reading "rules."

Anonymous said...

I have spent a fortune on books for my two to read. I had in my minds eye that they were going to read all the great classics that I read when I was younger. Josephs favourite books are Goosebumps & Beastly Quests. Hannahs are the Rainbow Fairy Adventures. ( I read these to Hannah). At the end of Yr 2 Joseph couldnt put two words together. We worked really hard for 12 months to try and get him to improve his reading. It was about 1/4 of the way into the year & it finally dawned on me. Joseph learnt to read from his dinosaur encyclopedia & other dinosaur fact books.
I think kids need to get excited about the books they are reading. If they do that thats half the battle won. I also am a strong believer in reading to your children from a very young age & to be the exmaple yourself. I dont read as much as I would like too, but the kids see me get lost in a book & I think this helps too.

moxiemommy said...

I am currently a SAHM to two baby boys but am a secondary English & Spanish teacher by profession. I enjoyed your blog immensely, especially the Bambino academy info. I will have to keep going back in your archives, you have great ideas! The last district I worked in forced us to teach books and stories based on the decision of whichever teacher "owned" the class. It was horrible to have to pretend to reluctant readers that the stories and books were worth their efforts. The ninth grade teacher selected pieces that she loved as a young person but that had no relevance to our current students. It was so difficult to have to teach all of the background prior knowledge our students lacked just to begin the readings! I was always way behind her schedule and often off subject. Teaching students to love reading and explore on their own, builds great readers. They can get there but not if they are force fed. I only really understood this after studying a second language, as reading in English was always effortless. Thanks for getting my thoughts flowing!

Kylie said...

Thanks to all of you for the feedback and thoughts on this subject. I appreciate the time you all took to comment :-)

Stacy said...

I came across that article last month and wrote a small post about my reaction to it (click my name if interested in reading it).

My son is not yet to the point of reading books so I don't have a lot of *experience* in this area. But I do see the value in trying to get boys to read quality material and also making that exciting.

I'm reading a book called Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young, a family that homeschools their 6 boys. They say that their boys love to read the classics, so I do know that it can be done.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

It's a very interesting question, and I am in favor of allowing children to read what they want (within reason, of course). I do believe that the kids move on. But the other day I saw a mother in the library reading one of those Star Wars serials to her son who looked 7 or 8. To be honest, I don't want to read that kind of books aloud. If she wants to read twaddle, she is welcome to do it on her own.

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