“You don’t have to read, you GET to read.”
There is plenty of solid evidence that reading is a powerful predictor of academic performance. In fact, data from major longitudinal studies show that pleasure reading is the “most explanatory factor of both cognitive process and social mobility over time.” (Sullivan & Brown, 2013). Our students at AVS are engaged in reading on a daily basis across the curriculum and during the school day. Our hope is that, as members of our community, we can all devote time to reading for pleasure at home as well.
Many parents have ritualized bedtime routines with a cozy storybook time, especially those with very young children. Continuing this healthy habit as children grow and develop sets them up for success for real encounters with words in context. In addition, this time leads to enhanced vocabulary, better spelling, and greater knowledge and understanding about our world. Books and stories are also one of the most advantageous ways for children and parents to connect and converse about values, choices, and big ideas. Children’s minds are stretched when they are exposed to books beyond their level of independent reading. When parents read books aloud with more developed plots, characters, and ideas, children become even more motivated to become proficient readers and look forward to when they too can read about the world and all of its fascinating possibilities. Exposing children to more complex text by reading aloud should continue through grade four and even beyond.
Remember to keep the pleasure in pleasure reading! Allowing students to read whichever books interest them keeps motivation and engagement high. If your child needs help choosing a book that is an appropriate level and of high-interest to her/him, it is well worth the effort to do some research (with or without the help of your child’s teacher or myself) to find the right book. Sometimes finding that one magical book is the beginning of a lifelong healthy habit.
Another way to ingrain the habit of reading is for parents to be models of reading for their children. If we are going to encourage children to read in their free time, we as adults need to also do so. Limiting screen time is a healthy family habit and adding reading to your daily routine it is another great way to promote relaxation and provide entertainment. Show you value reading by choosing books you love, model reading around your children, and support their healthy reading habits. By fostering a love of reading in this way it no longer feels like a chore. Reading really is contagious!