In the push to get kids reading as soon as humanly possible, I think our sweet kids are really missing out in the long run.
We purchase ten pounds of books, guaranteeing to teach a three year old to read. We plug them into iPads loaded full of “learning apps”. We ship them off to school as soon as they’re out of diapers. We’ve bought into the idea that early reading means they’re smarter. It means you’re a better parent. It means they’ll be more successful.
But is this true? I highly doubt it. I’ve heard that, by middle school, the early reader and the late reader are pretty much on the same page.
What is lost by this mad dash, this ridiculous race, to get our children to read? I’d posit to say it’s a great deal.
Once a child can read to himself, read aloud time tends to come to a halt. No more snuggling up with a beautiful picture book. No more eager anticipation of the next chapter at bed time. Reading stops being a fun time of bonding and relaxation and quickly becomes a solitary activity.
I’m not saying that solitary reading is a bad thing. I love nothing more than a warm blanket and a good book. But that’s because, at a young age, a love of reading was instilled.
Reading isn’t a merit to achieve, it is a love affair to cultivate.
Take it slowly. Nurture it. Show your children that a good book is something to be savored and shared. Curl up together and rejoice over Polly’s new stove or drool over the idea of Mrs. Wilder’s homemade donuts. Take your time through the pages of Heggedy Peg and really take in the artwork.
If you teach your children to love reading, the mechanics will come in their own time.
Let’s focus our efforts on instilling that passion for a good book, cultivating that sweet love affair with the written word. That is what takes a person from being someone who can read and makes him a reader.