November 7, 2007

Raising Readers

That is one of our primary goals in homeschooling and in life in general - to raise readers. Since they were born (and before I suppose) we have been reading out loud to them and as soon as they could read we required them to read every day. Weekends are optional but no screen time unless they read, so they usually do.

We read a lot. We read a variety of things and at all sorts of times of the day. The library is our friend and we still have well over 1000 books in our home. Because we read so much I keep track of it. I always wondered about what I read when I was younger and now as my kids get older I still try to remember titles of books I loved growing up so I can share them. So I bought Book Collector software, asked for and received a bar code scanner for Christmas and keep crazy records - because I think it is fun. Maybe someday my kids will be glad I did. For now they simply know to put everything they read in the green box so mom can record it.

Recently I had to count how many books we read for the month of September and October for the Scholastic Classroom Care program. I realized that not including what Serona and I have read for fun or research in these months (I am not sure of that total would guess around a dozen books or so) we have read 303 books over just those two months!

Now the breakdown can be seen over in the right column in our reading list section. I know the number sounds amazing to a lot of people. I want to clarify something though. A great majority of those are simply storybooks that I read out loud to Sirah and Ciaran. On average a storybook takes me anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the length. So lets average that and assume I read about 120 in a month and you discover I am really only reading out loud about 850 minutes a month or about 30 minutes a day.

Now look at how productive reading out loud 30 minutes a day to a young child is! As the kids get older we are doing more read aloud time in regular chapter books. For now I am doing both - chapter books and storybooks so I am probably a bit closer to an hour a day reading out loud. To be sure we don't read every day for that amount of time. Some days we don't read out loud at all and other days I may do it for almost 2 hours. The point though is reading is a regular part of our lives, a big part of our family actually. And the thing I love is that we all enjoy it. Reading to my kids snuggled up in a chair, couch or bed is probably my favorite thing to do with them. Rhiannon runs off to our library with a book to lay on the leather love seat when she needs some recharge time.

We are raising readers and that makes me very happy. Go read to or with your kids today. If they see and hear you do it regularly they are much more likely to do it themselves. I challenge you to read for an average of 30 minutes a day with your kids this next month - see how it goes and if you like the results, I know we are happy here.

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