Unfortunately, I only had one teacher that read books aloud to the class in elementary school.
I always thought “READING” meant filling out a workbook.
When forced to choose a book from the library, I would choose odd obscure books because no one was there to recommend awesome books to try.
With all good intentions, my mother forced me to learn 200 sight words on flash cards before I entered school. This put me in the “high” reading group at school, but made me despise reading even more.
I was the kid that would rather be outside playing or climbing trees.
In middle and high school, I cheated my way through assignments (by getting my sister to read the assignment for me.) I cheated my way through book reports by only reading the back of the book, getting the cliffs notes, or by reading this great comic book series of the Classics. My teachers were impressed that I was choosing to read books like Jane Eyre and Moby Dick.
These techniques got me somewhat through college as well. I remember even watching the movie Hamlet just so I wouldn’t have to read. (Big mistake.)
So I halfway through college, I switched my major from Vocal Performance to Education (thinking it would be more practical) and it was then I discovered a love of reading.
At 20 years old I learned to love reading because I had an education professor that would start and end every single class by reading aloud a…..PICTURE BOOK!
Being exposed to picture books in such a fun way (with no worksheets or quizzes attached and hearing the way she read with such enthusiasm) is what turned me into a reader.
And I realized that I wanted to share that same magical experience with other Book Haters like myself.
Over the past 11 years of being an educator, I’ve realized that kids don’t hate reading.
Connecting kids to the right books is what it is all about!
I recently read this great article called Setting Children Up To Hate Reading. One of the best quotes from the article state, “The American Academy of Pediatrics notes the critical factor as to how a student will learn to read “is not how aggressively,” the child is given instruction, but rather their “own enthusiasm for learning.”
So how do we ensure this enthusiasm?
1. Read aloud to children (even when they are very young.)
2. Show kids “your” love and enthusiasm of books and reading.
3. Expose them to a wide variety of books.
4. Talk about books.
5. Talk about authors.
6. Take them to the library.
7. Take them to the bookstore.
8. Tell them how much you love the smell of books. J
9. Find what interests them (by exposing them to a wide variety of books.)
10. Kids are funny! Find humorous books.
11. Find books that are fun to read aloud and fun to listen to. (Ones with rhyme, rhythm, or wordplay.)
12. Find books with great characters: characters they will love, characters they will feel sorry for, root for, cheer for, characters that are funny, characters that are active, characters that are flawed.
13. Be enthusiastic about books yourself! They will value what you value.
Check out a previous blog post of mine called How To Definitely Make Kids Hate Books and Reading.
There is such a natural connection between reading and writing. After I developed this passion for placing the right books into the hands of readers, I developed a passion to write books that I could place into the hands of a reader.
And I’m so excited I’ve followed my dream to do so! I pursued an MFA in creative writing for children, joined SCBWI, got involved in a critique group, and last fall I took Mira’s course The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Books.
And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m excited to be assisting with course this winter, which starts TODAY!!!!
Guess what? It’s not too late to join!
Let’s start developing readers together! Let’s get them excited about reading. Let’s help them develop a love of books.
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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