When it comes to our children reading, we are hypocrites. We send children home with homework and stress to them the importance of reading at home. We put all this pressure on them, but then do we model that behavior? Parents and educators, are we reading in front of children? Parents, do your children see you reading at home? Educators, do your students see you reading at school? If the answer is no, then how can we expect to see them reading? Our children need us to model the behavior we desire. If we do not model the act of reading and reading consistently, then it is not something that students will pick up. Even if we do not enjoy reading, they will prioritize it if they see us prioritizing it. If we are going to encourage them to read genuinely, we must encourage ourselves first to be reading in their presence.
We have to create images in our children’s mind of us reading. A great way to incorporate reading in the home is to set up a time to read as a family. It should become second nature just as the tradition of family dinner and family TV time. A simple 20-30 minutes of all family reading will create that image in your child’s mind. Scheduling the time is half the battle. The second half and most important half is reading and being consistent. I would recommend doing this during the weekday, so it coincides with the time the children should also be doing their homework.
Schools must get back to those sacred reading times. With all the emphasis on state testing and teaching to the standards, there must be time for silent sustained reading (SSR). In many schools, SSR has been taken away. SSR was a time where an entire school building or grade level would stop and read. Another new great initiative for schools is the one school – one book model. In this model, a teacher or principal selects one book the entire school reads including the adults.
We must show our children that reading is valuable. We can begin the process at home by setting designated reading times and we can set up the process at school by creating reading initiatives or reading times throughout the day. I encourage parents and educators to take your children to the library, allow them to pick out a book, let them see you pick out a book and together get lost in the pages. The great Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”