What Are You Reading?

I can’t even tell you how much I love to read. I owe my love for reading to my mother, who taught me to read and true to the mothering pattern of the 1960’s never felt responsible for my entertainment. Whenever I would come to her and tell her I was bored she would tell me to go read.  “Go Read!”Once I figured out how the school library worked, I was off!  I spent my hard earned money on Nancy Drew books, walking to a store in downtown St.Louis as a fourth grader. I LOVE TO READ! One of my favorite classes in college was “Children’s Literature” and it’s my favorite thing to do on a vacation. After I got married and  I started to have children I realized I couldn’t read all day. I had to consciously make myself put my book down and get going. I guess that’s why one of my favorite book titles of all times is “She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts In Moorhead, Indiana”.

 It turns out reading early, and reading a lot is a big deal.

Sebastian Wren, PhD., said on his web site, balancedreading.com:

“If you are reading this, chances are you are a habitual reader, meaning you read on average an hour or two a day.  As such, I can say with some authority, that most of the words you know, you learned through the act of reading.  Research has shown that past the 4th grade, the number of words a person knows depends primarily on how much time they spend reading (Hayes & Ahrens, 1988; Nagy & Anderson, 1984; Nagy & Herman, 1987; Stanovich, 1986).  In fact, by the time they reach adulthood, people who make a habit of reading have a vocabulary that is about four times the size of those who rarely or never read.  This disparity starts early and grows throughout life.”

Dr. Wren continues, “The average student learns about 3,000 words per year in the early school years — that’s 8 words per day (Baumann & Kameenui, 1991; Beck & McKeown, 1991; Graves, 1986), but vocabulary growth is considerably worse for disadvantaged students than it is for advantaged students (White, Graves & Slater, 1990).

Dr. Wren finishes,

“Why is the size of your vocabulary so important ? Imagine how much harder your life would be if you didn’t understand 75% of the words you currently know.  Think how difficult it would be to read a paragraph if you didn’t understand many of the words written there? What if you were reading a page from a web site and it was like reading this paragraph:

“While hortenting efrades the populace of the vaderbee class, most experts concur that a scrivant rarely endeavors to decry the ambitions and shifferings of the moulant class.  Deciding whether to oxant the blatantly maligned Secting party, most moulants will tolerate the subjugation of staits, savats, or tempets only so long as the scrivant pays tribute to the derivan, either through preem or exaltation.”

There is a lot of competition for  our children’s time these days.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:

  • Kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs.
  • Kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.
  • Counting all media outlets, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day

That is a stupendous amount of time. You, as a Fierce Mormon Mother can entice your children away from all of that media  by reading to them initially and helping them find powerful books as they become good readers. LIMIT THEIR MEDIA. It’s too tempting and persuasive to walk away from. Have a time in your daily schedule where all screens are off or don’t have any TV at all in your home. Have a culture of reading. The payoff for cultivating this culture in your family is that  they are being taught important life skills—courage, honor, sacrifice, how other people in other times lived and solved problems, and they are processing these influential and compelling stories internally. They will think and ponder on these stories. These weighty and new  thoughts will help them start building a successful story for themselves.

 

One of our family’s all time, powerhouse, blockbusting favorites  is “Where The Red Fern Grows.” Read this to your children. They will remember this story for the rest of their lives.

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It is the story of a boy that wants a pair of “coon” dogs for the unbelievable sum of 50.00 during the Great Depression. He works picking raspberries for 10-15 cents a batch and earns and waits for two years before he can pick up his dogs, walking 30 miles to get them. It’s the story of love, grit, loyalty, courage, and responsibility. It is a slice of history, showing us a simpler, humbler time. There are many ways to find good books like these that resonate with your children. My adult children still mention “Where the Red Fern Grows”  as being one of their favorites.

“Children’s books fairly pulsate with power when it comes to teaching. There are endless ways in which books power learning.” Michael O. Tunnell, chair, Department of Teacher Education, McKay School, BYU

 

Connection is another reason to read.

This great article, “The Need To Read”, was in the Wall Street Journal on November 26, 2016.Will Schwalbe is the author.  Here is the link:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-need-to-read-1480083086

At the beginning, Mr. Schwalbe says:

“We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?”

“It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives.”

The author talks about how a grandmother couldn’t keep her grandson that lived away from her on the phone, until she found out what books he was reading. She read the Hunger Games and viola! The article continues–

“The book helped this grandmother cut through the superficialities of phone chat and engage her grandson on the most important questions that humans face about survival and destruction and loyalty and betrayal and good and evil, and about politics as well. Now her grandson couldn’t wait to talk to her when she called—to tell her where he was, to find out where she was and to speculate about what would happen next.”

Author Will Schwalbe goes on to say,

“…I’m reminded that reading isn’t just a respite from the relentlessness of technology. It isn’t just how I reset and recharge. It isn’t just how I escape. It’s how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement.”

These are the two books I bought for my grand baby for Christmas. She is almost 18 months old. I remember both of these books from my childhood. I loved feeling the dad’s scratchy beard and the soft bunny in “Pat the Bunny”.

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I love the illustrations in this book. This is simple and soothing. A perfect bedtime book. These reviews left on Amazon perfectly capture the magic of “Goodnight Moon.”

Review #1

“Until I started reading to my older son, I didn’t really understand what was this book’s unique hold on people was. However, from my first reading to him, I did! There must be something magical about this book and the way children love it. It’s very comforting to them, with the easy to memorize lines and the gentle arrival in the great green room of nighttime. However, it’s also full of little details for them to notice and delight in–the hidden mouse, the dollhouse with lights on, the pictures on the wall. It’s the perfect book to start kids “reading” themselves—leave out the crucial word in a line and wait for them to say it—“a bowlful of….” “MUSH!”, they scream with delight!”

 Review#2

“This is a book that I read every night to my children. For years, I could not quite put my finger on its appeal. Finally, it clicked one day. There is a cadence to the story that is like a mediation mantra, quietly and gently calming you and your child down. In addition, the book’s text and illustrations are matched in away that it is natural to point out the words and pictures to your child, and for them to do the same as they grow older.”

Reading can increase your child’s vocabulary, teach him powerful stories,  help him connect to other people, and relieve stress.  Reading can help you become interesting and interested, and help you fight those alluring 7 hours and 38 minutes on your children’s screens.

So what are you reading? What books have let you connect with other people? What have been some of the books that help you relax and get away from it all?

 

One Comment

  1. I love the question, “What are you reading?”
    I think it helps me realize the importance of expanding my own awareness of new ideas, and encourages me to have deeper dialogues with others.

    Great tip.

    Like

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