Herald Journal Columns
July 17, 2006, Herald Journal

Keep on reading


Every parent wants his or her child to be a successful reader. We know that reading provides a foundation for learning. We also want reading to be pleasurable and enjoyable for our children, so it can be a lifelong hobby, as well.

This is the case for my 85-year-old mother, as reading has been and continues to be a “true love” of hers. One can always find her at her table or in her rocker with her head immersed in some type of literature.

Whether it’s the local newspaper, her daily devotions, a magazine (she reads “People” or any other magazine she inherits from relatives), or a novel, she spends much of her day with some type of reading material in hand. She can finish a Harlequin novel in two days.

One can certainly argue that this lifelong love of reading has kept her mind sharp (she can tell you of anyone who got a speeding ticket from the traffic court section in the Herald Journal, as she reads the paper from head-to-toe).

In fact, there have been many occasions where I have had to ask for my mom’s help in finding some type of information from the newspaper, even though I am a correspondent for the Herald Journal. Whether it be the summer swimming lesson schedule or a certain activity schedule, my mom can almost always tell me the information, or at least show me where she found it in the paper.

She has recently completed reading the “Little House on the Prairie” series again (she has the whole set, and then some), and she reads any type of novel from a Nora Roberts story, to a mystery novel, to a classic such as “Little Women,” or a children’s story read to my children.

Another great benefit from my mom’s reading hobby is that my children have the opportunity to observe this lifelong love of reading since Grandma lives with us (she has her own “area,” as my kids call it). And we know that being reading role models and setting examples as readers help instill the value that reading is important and pleasurable.

Thus, I scour garage sales and book sales at local public libraries and stores, visit public libraries, and belong to book clubs (there’s a large print book club that we order some books from), all in search of books to sustain my mom’s reading habit, as well as my own, my children’s, and my husband’s – he’s a book nut, too. (He likes it when I bring home a novel about the Lewis and Clark expeditions or the life of the first 15 presidents that I found at a garage sale.)

The point is, reading is important and there are things that we can do to help our children with this skill and instill a love of reading.

Recently, I reviewed some tips for reading to preschoolers, so this week, we’ll take a look at some reading tips for school-aged children, kindergarten through approximately grade three. The National Education Association offered many of these tips on its website, www.nea.org/readacross/

• Try to read books with chapters, talk about what is happening in the story, and encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen next.

• Keep reading to your child, even when she learns how to read. Read books that are too difficult or long for her to read alone, among other books of choice.

• Take turns reading a story with your child, and don’t interrupt to correct mistakes that do not change the meaning.

• Talk with your child about stories, using the concepts of the beginning, middle, and end of the story to organize their thinking.

• Discuss the meaning of new words and ideas introduced in books.

• When your child reads aloud to you, enjoy the story together, laugh over it, discuss the plot, and praise him for reading and for figuring out a word for himself.

• Give children extra opportunities to read, such as reading directions to a game. Read recipes and traffic signs together.

• Talk with your child about reading preferences she may be developing. Discuss with her whether she likes adventure stories, animal stories, funny stories, etc. and even try to find books at a library that focus on these preferences.

• Bring your child to the public library. Let him browse, look, and get a library card for himself, and allow him to check out books that he chooses.

Make reading fun and enjoyable – something that you both look forward to.

Teachers’ top book picks

Here are more teachers’ top book picks, taken from a 1999 NEA online survey:

31. “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner (9-12 years)

32. “Sarah, Plain and Tall” by Patricia MacLachlan (9-12 years)

33. “Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks (9-12 years)

34. “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell (9-12 years)

35. “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli (9-12 years)

36. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)

37. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (9-12 years)

38. “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff (4-8 years)

39 “James and the Giant Peach: A Children’s Story” by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)

40. “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)

More kids’ top book picks

31. “Animorphs” (series) by K. A. Applegate

32. “The Witches” by Roald Dahl

33. “Nancy Drew Mystery Stories” by Carolyn Keene

34. “The Hobbit” (series) by J. R. R. Tolkien

35. “American Girls” (series) by Susan Adler, Valerie Tripp, Connie Porter, Janet Shaw, et al

36. “Matilda” by Roald Dahl

37. “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London

38. “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss

39. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss

40. “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl

Another bestseller at the Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis in June was “Mouse Soup” (I Can Read Books, Harper Paperback) by Arnold Lopel (Format: Trade Paperback, published by HarperTrophy, 1983). In this story, poor mouse may be weasel’s dinner, so mouse must come up with a plan to distract weasel from cooking up a mouse soup supper.

Keep on readin’!

Jenni Sebora has a bachelor of science degree in special education, and a master of science degree in education, with a coaching certification. She has taught in the public school system for 14 years, and has coached a variety of sports at all levels.

Jenni was a children’s program leader for Family Support Network/Parents’ Anonymous, for a local chapter, for 10 years and was the children’s program resource coordinator for the Minnesota Family Support Network/Prevent Child Abuse organization, for southern Minnesota chapters. She has conducted many trainings on dealing with children, children’s activities, and behavioral management.

Jenni has worked in day care settings, served as a Sunday school teacher, summer recreation director, and on the board of education at her church. She and her husband, Marc, have three children.