Thursday, June 4, 2020

Some Food For Thought On Reading....


Reading. I won't argue the many academic merits the skill and love of reading bring with it. I have read the mountains of information about reading being the cornerstone of all education.  I've seen all of the statistics. I will agree, as in all things, that having the most beneficial foundation will aid in all other pursuits. Reading is important. Absolutely. I believe every human who does not have a physical inability to read SHOULD learn to read.

Here comes the "but".

But.... while it may bring the ultimate benefits for a child to love to read, I do not believe children should be made to feel inadequate for not enjoying a good book.  I believe a postitive attitude towards learning and a strong self esteem are both more important than quantity of reading.

Of my six children, the oldest two LOVED to read, the two middle enjoyed a specific book or series here and there, and the two youngest did not enjoy reading at all.  Until.... the quarantine of 2020. Suddenly, a book she had been trying to read for many months was completed. Then the second in the series, and third, fourth, fifth! I had to order the last two online, and she read them faster than the next one could be delivered!  I'm not sure why. We home school, obviously, so it wasn't because she was lacking the normal school routine. She wasn't particularly bored, as the four of them have kept quite busy and are enjoying each other's company very much. She has even expressed that this time has been wonderful without all of the usual hustle and bustle. I believe she had the time to actually experience and enjoy reading on her own terms. She is now diving into a different series. When my husband woke up early this morning, he found her curled up on the sofa, already enthralled in new chapters. Her younger brother isn't there yet. But, like me he enjoys reading for the sake of learning a subject he is interested in. He will read facts about dinosaurs, sharks, the ocean, and pirates all day long. He just doesn't know he's reading. ;)

I guess my philosophy is patience. When it comes to academics and reading in particular, it seems pushing too hard only brings about the opposite results. I do assign my children a chapter of reading every morning. The kids who love to read, go on to read throughout the day. The ones who don't enjoy reading, engage in other tasks they find fufilling. Personally speaking, as a creative person, I much prefer painting, working in clay, photography, and even writing, more fun and fulfilling than reading. I have never had a quiet mind, and it often takes over when I'm trying to read. When I'm working with my hands, my imagination is too busy becoming something in my hands for me to think about it much.

In no way am I condeming assigned reading or summer reading lists. Much like my assigning a chapter a day in hopes that it will spark or enkindle that love of reading, I hope these tactics do as well. But I remember when my son was in public school and his teacher forbade any of them to purchase a book from the school book fair that was based on a television show. That included anything superhero related, educational show related, etc. WHAT?????? My son loved super heroes. Reading? Not so much. I had two feelings about this.... First: It's MY MONEY.  I'll spend it on any damn book I want, or I won't spend it at your book fair at all.  And second: Shouldn't we be nurturing their love of reading by allowing them to choose a book on a subject they love?  Fortunately for my son, I was chaperoning that day. I bought the superhero book for him. 

How many of us grow to love something because it was forced upon us?  I mean.... think brussel sprouts. How many adults STILL hate them because they were forced to eat them as children? Do they really hate them? Or do they just refuse to try them again in protest?  Many of us have learned to love vegetables we wouldn't eat as children. But it's not because it was forced on us as a child. It's because we tried it again as an adult with a new mindset. Aha.... Here's the balance. Any good parent still requires their child to try new foods.  We want to expose our children to the things we believe are good and healthy for their minds, bodies, and spirits. But there is a huge difference between trying a new vegetable and being force fed a pile of beets. One instills an open mind and sense of adventure. One reinforces a disdain for the food, a negative mindset, and a power struggle which nobody ultimately wins.

Reading and beets can have a lot in common.


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