In my second year teaching third grade, a remarkable portion (two-thirds) of my class began the year with reading levels well below end-of-second-grade benchmarks. So I was shocked to see one of my students pick up Harry Potter in the library. I was even more surprised to find him reading Harry Potter. It was a powerful moment in which I learned the power of motivation in improving children’s reading skills.
Jim Trelease offers statistical support for the conclusion to which I came:
”Students from lower income families tended to have lower [reading] scores, but when they were highly engaged (motivated) readers, they scored higher than students from the highest income levels who were poorly engaged readers and very close to the most engaged middle income students. Thus, high reading engagement is capable of vaulting the lowest SES [Socio-Economic Status] student to significantly higher scores and overcoming family culture. Motivation (which pushes frequency) is therefore a critical factor in elevating the at-risk readers” (The Read Aloud Handbook p95)
Motivation is no less important in parents than with children. So it is of utmost importance that parents find children’s literature that they love to read aloud with their children. For parents who didn’t grow up with great literature, or who are strapped for time to find good books, or simply can’t afford them, what can be done?
In addition to presenting literacy milestones from Reach Out and Read (a fantastic organization that promotes early literacy) and the Department of Education to help parents understand what to expect from their children, tumblon recommends great books for each stage of development so that parents don’t have to search or buy. They can simply check them out from the local library.
The result? No searching; no buying; just a simple list of great books (customized for the children’s ages) for parents and their children.