Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mom Reflections: Big B as a Reader

For years my dear first-grade teacher-friends Kendra and Jillian have talked about the excitement of watching their first grade students grow as readers.  On paper, I understood the vast amount of progress children make during their kindergarten and first grade years.  Plus I taught second grade, where children continue to make an incredible amount of growth.

Big B entered kindergarten a non-reader.  Let me just say this did not worry me as a parent or a teacher.  He just turned five when he started kindergarten.  We read to the little man every night since the day he was born.  I knew it was going to be fine...and he had an amazing kindergarten teacher to teach him and reassure me that it was going to be fine.  He left kindergarten where we expect kindergartners to be, but I didn't feel like he had truly cracked the code.  This summer, I felt like we were starting to get somewhere.  But having him read to me didn't seem to go well.  Apparently, my teacher voice comes out, and Big B didn't seem to appreciate my talent and expertise in teaching children to read.  Shocking!  So, I just continued to read aloud picture books to him at night and let him read what he wanted to himself, primarily books involving Legos, Star Wars, Star Wars Legos, and Waldo.  As his mom, I didn't need him to read at a certain level, but I did want him to share our love for reading.  I decided that I just needed to be his mom and let his equally amazing first grade teacher handle the teaching.  The light bulb went off this fall.  

So, I now know what Jillian and Kendra have been talking about for all those years.  I totally get it.  Watching him become a reader has been phenomenal.  I thought I would take a moment on the blog to reflect on a few thoughts/observations of Big B as a reader.  (Look for the Little C version soon, hopefully tomorrow.)

1. Those Waldo books were really important after all.  Confession: As a second grade teacher, I rarely allowed students to read puzzle books or joke books for independent reading at school.  I encouraged them to "choose a book that will help you grow as reader."  My intentions were good, but I think I may have missed something.  In retrospect, reading is reading.  The hours he has spent reading joke books, finding Waldo, and studying the pictures in various Star Wars Legos encyclopedias and guides has improved his reading stamina.  He can curl up with a book for a really long time, which is serving him well as he starts to transition to longer texts like Nate the Great.  Graphic novels, which offer a combination of longer stories with tons of visual support, are becoming a staple in his reading diet.           

2. Big B is not interested in chapter books, not even a little.  This one actually makes me really happy.  I feel like we sometimes rush children into chapter books in first and second grade.  I'm in no hurry, and neither is Big B.  I even resisted the urge to read a chapter book aloud to him.  There are so many incredible picture books to enjoy.  I know he will start to read chapter books soon and there will still be a place for picture books, but I think it is a harder sell.  I want to linger here as long as possible. Along these same lines, Big B wants to be read to.  (Again, happy momma!)  He is reading more and more on his own, but I still read aloud to him every night and he often joins his little sister and me for her before-bed story.

3.  Most importantly, reading is a part of his life.  He takes a pile of books with him to bed every night.  He reads before he falls asleep and when he wakes up in the morning.  Big B set a goal as a reader at the start of 2014.  (He is using the Good Habits app to track his daily work on reading goal.  Very motivating!  I'll stop talking about this app, promise...)  Trips to bookstores and library are part of what we do as a family.  He even asks to check the book section when we go to Costco.  He comes home from school and talks about books that his teacher or librarian read to his class.              

As I reflect, it boils down to this -- is Big B a member/future member of the Nerdy Book Club?  I think we're on our way.



  1. I love this story! Yay Big B! Do I sense a Nerdy Book Club this summer--kid style? They could book talk for each other. Or read to each other? There could be snacks... :) Discuss...

  2. Well, if there are snacks and books, you can count on my family to be there. :-) I was actually thinking it might be fun to do something with all the kids on Feb. 1 for Friendversary. Let's chat!