Reading For Joy

I,  myself pride myself in reading for the fun of it, what about you?  I can remember going to elementary school and bringing home those scholastic flyers with all of those lovely books inside that I would mark off each and everyone that I would have wanted.  Once in a while, I would get one (after begging and pleading with my parents) money was tight when I was growing up; when I was able to get one my whole world changed.

Books opened my world up to new and interesting places far and wide.  Learning about new things, talking about what I learned.  It is the same today when I come across a book I feel so passionately about.  What about you?

Last week, The People for Education published a report about the state of reading here in the province of Ontario.  It states that since they started a new agenda for Ontario’s children literacy scores have improved.

But unfortunately, one thing decreased – The Joy Of Reading.

Children here in grades 3 and 6 take tests called EQAO – Education Quality and Accountability Office –  with those tests a survey came along with it for the students to fill out.  Questions were asked about a wide range of topics.  One of which was whether they liked to read.

  • In 1998/1999 the percentage of students in grade 3 who reported they liked to read was 76%.  In 2010/2011 had decreased a third with 50% said that they liked to read.  That for me was so shocking, the numbers should be going up not down!
  • In 1998/1999 the percentage of grade 6 students who were asked the same question reported 65% of them enjoyed to read.  In 2010-2011 that trend has also decreased to 50%.

Here are some other worrying percentages :

  • 56% of Elementary Schools had a teacher-librarian in 2010-2011.
  •   80% of them are part-time employees compared to 76% in 1998-1999.
  • 66% of Secondary Schools had a teacher-librarian in 2010-2011.
  • Just over half full-time from 78% in 2000-2001.
  • 21% of Ontario children in Grade Three reported that they read together with a parent /guardian every day or almost every day.

Very alarming I think, what do you think about this?

For one, we need to read to our children at home, make it enjoyable, make it fun for them.  The support in our schools isn’t there like it once was for us adults that have that joy of reading instilled in us.  Sure, it is great that the test scores are up and continuing to do so, but even as my son states when I ask him to read something he states “Mom, I read all day at school, I don’t feel like doing it at home too”.  They see reading as work, if they see it that way, they won’t want to do it, even if it is for fun.  Instead of Teacher-Librarians, we have Library Technicians, where in my son’s school she doesn’t do very much except shelve books.  She doesn’t interact with the children, the library isn’t full day after day with children taking books out.  It is quiet and empty.  The only students in the library are accessing the computer lab at the back of the library in a class.

Did you know that studies have shown that students with a positive attitude to reading, they tend to be more successful in all of their subjects?  They are more likely to read more and seek more knowledge and develop deeper concepts and understand more of the subject matter?

Reading enjoyment permeates school life, is integral to nearly all learning and takes up a considerable part of every school day.  That their attitude to learning can or is just as important as their grasp of specific knowledge and skills, which also affects their quality of life during adolescence as well as their decision to further education and job opportunities.

if any of you know me well, I always have a book in my hand – at home or out in the community.  I even bring books to people who I think would enjoy the latest from a new author or one that has written for decades.  It is ingrained into my soul.  I will probably be on my deathbed with a darn book  I love them so much !  In elementary school, I was one of the book monitors that sat at the check out counter of my school’s library checking out books for other kids when the librarian was eating lunch.  I was ALWAYS in the library.  I had my own mini library at home where my parents installed shelves in my room, so that I could display them proudly.  Although, they were never on the shelf, I was always looking inside them.

I ask this of you parents who are reading this:

Read with your kids at home – Just for the fun of it.  Make funny noises while reading the story, voices of the characters to make the story more enjoyable to your child.

Support your child when they ask to read a book that may be above their level, or read it to them so if they have questions you can explain it to them in a way they understand. If they are having trouble pronouncing a word help them sound it out.  This will help them grow in leaps and bounds.  Who knows, you may just learn something you never knew too !

I have this problem here at home too.  They are too interested on what is on XBox, PS3, Facebook, other websites.  But you know what..all of those are good too, they are still reading.  My son for instance doesn’t like fiction books.  He is more of a non-fiction person, reading real history/stories that have taken place.  Your child may be like that too, so indulge them.  They are still reading!

I know this probably sounds weird, but as a kid, I would read the local paper, as well as the  Toronto Star.  Sure, a lot of it wasn’t interesting for me, but I still read it.  When I studied for a project that needed to be handed in, I looked in encyclopedias to get the information I needed to complete it.  In college, I surfed the internet (what there was of it) and here we are online searching information for whatever reason in the morning or the last thing we do at night.

Since it is close to Christmas, we are fanatically searching for that last great deal for that one gift we have left to buy, why bother braving the crowds in the malls, we go online to shop – WE ARE STILL READING!

If we all committed to reading to our kids, yes, even the older ones that haven’t yet entered high school for even a half an hour everyday, we can re-instill that joy of reading into our children.  Even if you are making dinner, have them sit around the kitchen table and read aloud the recipe or even the can of whatever you are adding to make dinner.

In this day and age of everyone so busy, we need to make time for families no matter how large or small to connect – over dinner or on a quiet Saturday afternoon when no one has an activity or play date.  Have a game night, were we all gather for one evening a week to play monopoly, or scrabble, or any game..YOU ARE STILL READING!

Here is the People for Education Report  media release as well as the National Reading Campaign website.

For those of you that have tablets, etc;  here are some links to many free apps that you can download and do with your children. No, I don’t want you to just leave them be while they do it, I want you there beside them!

Regardless of the form, reading for the joy of it, for its capacity to broaden our horizons, use our imaginations, think creatively, understand ourselves and others better, and feel engaged as citizens of the world – reading for all those reasons must be a vital component of what we encourage in our schools.

Android – iPad Apps

Apple

Apps for Kids

MeeGenius

Android Market

PBS

Android Community

Here are some old school reading resources that you can take a look at as well:

ReadKiddoRead

Read aloud to your child

Teach a Child To Read

Ontario Government Helping your Child to Read

Reading is Fundamental

Oprah – Best Ways to Teach Kids to Read

 

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4 thoughts on “Reading For Joy

  1. Terrific post, Marci. The stats about the loss of joy in reading are alarming and connection you make with reading to our kids is interesting. Anecdotally, of my teenage three boys, the older two have a gorgeous love of books, particularly fiction. My third, reads Hockey News and the sports page but getting him to read a novel is a tough slog. I spent the least time reading with my third perhaps becasue he didn’t love it as much as the other two, perhaps because life got that much busier. Oh, the mother guilt.

    • Thank You Cathy! When I read the report when it was emailed to me, I was shocked and dismayed at the stats! I knew I had to post something about it, it broke my heart to think there is another world out there inside the book that kids weren’t interested in exploring. I do understand that we are getting busier and busier as time goes by, but I firmly believe that if we take that half an hour everyday, we can still make a difference. Don’t let that guilt consume you, you did what you had to at the time. Now is the time to rectify that. Turn off that cell phone, computer, tablet, and GET READING !

  2. Marci, thank you for posting this. We always need a constant reminder about how important reading is for children! I was also one of those kids spending summers in the library immersed in the world of Ramona Quimby or the Judy Blume books. Now more than ever, it is so important for us to encourage our children to read a book instead of flip channels on tv, play video games, etc.

    I am so relieved that my son is finally LOVING bedtime stories. I will always read “just one more book” for him if he asks.

    And I, for one, AM STILL READING too!

    xo
    cass

    • Nick even says that his favorite book is Angela’s Airplane by Robert Munsch. He was three years old when I got him the book for Christmas. I read it over and over again I don’t know how many times, making sounds of the plane and the people in the book. I still remember the book as I sit here, it is still on his shelf. Even though he finds reading as a job, he still goes online to research things related to reading and not. When he does read, I am astounded at his vocabulary, he is way above his grade level. His favorite book now is his Atlas. It is always out on the floor!

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