If there is one summer activity that you NEED to enforce with your children, it’s reading. Reading is an essential part of lifelong success and provides educational benefit long after the individual is finished with the reading assignment.
According to the Campbell County Public Library’s article, “10 Benefits of Reading Books”, reading stimulates the brain in unique ways. It is shown to improve memory, increase connectivity in the brain, and helps promote the development of empathy (Moorhead).
Additionally, our society stresses the importance of reading in public and private education and students are often assigned reading as homework during the summer months. Schools place a huge emphasis on time spent reading both inside and outside the classroom. However, are we practicing the very activity that we tell our youngsters to engage in?
Practicing What We Preach
In an article arguing for the importance of sustained silent reading in schools, Elaine M. Garan and Glenn DeVoogd pose a very apt question for not only educators, but parents alike: “If we don’t allow students to read in school at the same time that we tout the wonders of reading, what message are we sending to students about our values?” (341). We could also make the argument that reading as a hobby in the home is just as important as making sure homework is complete, or studying for an upcoming test. Essentially, are we prioritizing reading as an essential part of everyday life?
If reading is truly as important as, say, eating your vegetables – then we need to model the importance of reading from the top to the bottom.
But my kid doesn't like to read!
This is a common complaint that we hear from parents or students. It is typically associated a student who requires tutoring in early reading or reading comprehension – side note here, we cannot lump together struggling readers and uninterested readers as those who do not like to read. We tutor students who have dyslexia and love to read, though it may take longer and is more challenging, and we have students who refuse to read because they would rather be doing anything else. The reasons why children or young adults do not like reading can usually be broken down into three categories:
- A student struggles with reading due to a unique learning style that requires specialized attention (like dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD/ADHD)
- A student is not engaged in reading due to disinterest
- A student does not recognize reading as a hobby, but rather as a chore
- A student has been told that he or she is not a “good” reader by peers, or an individual in authority
What Reading Looks Like at the Home Front - Tips from the Tutor
The stamina of a child learning phonemes will obviously differ greatly from a child who is a confident reader, and vastly different from a student in high school. Here at Planting Seeds Tutoring & Test Prep, we want to be sure that parents are well equipped with reading strategies to ensure that learning happens outside the classroom (or the tutoring session!).
- When assigning reading schedules for students, we typically try to aim for 20 minutes spent interacting with a book on a daily basis.
- This looks different than independent, silent reading – if a student is unable to actually read the book out loud, then there is little chance the student will be able to silently read it. Ask questions intermittently while the student reads – if he or she has absolutely no idea what’s going on in the book, give them a break to look up details online or try reading it also.
- We tutors strive to make reading fun, approachable, and interactive with our students, and parents need to stress these principles when allowing children ample time to read. Eliminate distractions during reading time, but ask leading questions about the text. Open discussions about reading makes the student enjoy unfolding the mystery of the author’s intent, literary devices, and what is expected to happen in well-written books!
- Be sure to incorporate at-level books for children. How do you know what level your child reads? Every public school in Texas utilizes scaled reading plans and assesses how a child performs. Look at iStation reports, the STAAR report card, and online resources to see where your child should be in reading when compared to their grade level.
- A primary school student will require one-on-one time with parents when settling down to read. Slightly older to high school students can be assigned writing prompts as reflection time. Dean Schneider, in his article “Why Read Books Anymore?” states, “I know no better way to get students to ponder ideas than to get them writing about their reading. I see writing as a learning tool” (17). Provide prompts like:
- Do you enjoy reading this book? Why or why not?
- What did you learn from this book?
- What was the story about?
- What is a common theme in this book? etc.
- Parents must also display mature reading habits to their children in order to promote the fun of reading. This means sitting down and reading, yourself!
Another key element that often goes unnoticed is annotating. Annotating is essential in allowing and promoting the necessary space for student to have autonomous thoughts separate from leading questions. This is where real, cherished learning happens and the love of reading is stoked. Annotating can get messy – as it should. Allowing students the availability to write notes in online ebooks or with a regular old paper and pencil. Annotating is one of the huge test strategies we teach for the STAAR Reading test as well (even on math word problems!).
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Participate in our Summer Reading Challenge!
Planting Seeds Tutoring & Test Prep offers students in Texas a special opportunity to be rewarded for reading during the summer. Here are the details for our summer reading challenge (more details and the reading logbook can be found here).
If you are looking for some recommendations, here is a list we’ve compiled from researching what teachers want their students to read!
Here’s a list of recommended books from Planting Seeds:
Beginner Level (ages 0-6 years old)
Baby Animals (by Xavier Deneux)
The Airport Book (by Lisa Brown)
A Morning With Grandpa (by Slyvia Liu)
There Is a Tribe of Kids (by Lane Smith)
Intermediate Level (ages 7-14 years old)
Alamo All Stars (by Nathan Hale)
Going Where It’s Dark (by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer (by Davide Cali)
Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley)
Advanced Level (ages 15 and older)
1984 (by George Orwell)
The Alchemist (by Paulo Coelho)
Into Thin Air (by John Krakauer)
To Kill A Mockingbird (by Harper Lee)
A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens)
College & Graduate Students
The Awakening (by Kate Chopin)
Things Fall Apart (by Chinua Achebe)
The Secret Life of Bees (by Sue Monk Kidd)
Atonement (by Ian McEwan)
Invisible Man (by Ralph Ellison)
Would you, or your student, benefit from our in-home or online tutoring offered in Austin, Dallas, South and Central Texas this summer? Contact us today to receive information regarding tutoring for English, Reading, Math, Science, History, and Test Prep. Curious about what subjects we teach? Click here to visit our website at www.plantingseedstutoring.com. You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you or your student require tutoring in another subject? Please check out our list of Core Subjects to find out what we offer. Additionally, visit our blog to keep up with new and exciting content, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Garan, Elaine M., and Glenn DeVoogd. “The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading: Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge.” Reading Teacher, vol. 62, no. 4, Dec. 2008, pp. 336–344. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1598/RT.62.4.6.
Moorhead, Andrew. “10 Benefits of Reading.” Campbell County Public Library. 21 Feb 2018. www.cc-pl.org/10-benefits-of-reading. Accessed 20 June 2019.
Schneider, Dean. “Why Read Books Anymore?” Book Links, vol. 19, no. 3, Mar. 2010, p. 17. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mat&AN=48538681&site=ehost-live&scope=site.