As a third grade teacher and now a father of three kids under the age of four, I feel like I finally have the necessary experience to blog about (almost) EVERYTHING related to reading.
As a teacher, when I meet with the parents of my students and they ask me what they can do at home to help their children, I repeat, “Read! Read as much as you can! Reading is the foundation for doing well in every other subject, especially now, when so much information is online for us to read.”
But oftentimes, they will ask, “How?” and that is when I need to ask a couple of questions which we should all think about.
#1 - When you ask your child to put away their devices and read, are you also putting down your phone and your ipad and turning off the TV and reading as well? Or are you creating a “Do as I say, not as I do” situation?
#2 - Have you spent any time researching which books are the most popular for children who are the same age as yours, and have you talked to your own kids about which books sound interesting?
For most parents, the answer to number 1 is no. This most likely is NOT their fault because their own parents probably didn’t do it with them either, and so they don’t really know what needs to be done.
You should set up a DEAR time for your family - Drop Everything and Read.
This means everyone, from parent to grandparent to nanny to the youngest toddler in the house should be reading a book. And whether it’s for 15 or 30 minutes, the goal is to model the proper behavior that you want your child to exhibit.
You can read books together. You can quietly curl up together. You can each go to your own private, comfortable space and read by yourself. But the goal is to set time aside each day so that reading starts to feel like a normal habit.
And then....to go even further....ask your child about their book. “What’s your book about?” “Oooh...really? That sounds exciting! What do you think will happen next?” “That sounds like a book I once read where....”
I know that for some parents, having discussions like this with their children will feel forced and awkward at first, but it shouldn’t! Your child is a real person with their own thoughts and feelings and interests, and if they are reading a book they enjoy, they should want to talk about it. You just need to be interested enough in their own thoughts and opinions to make them share them.
And now, for question #2, you have several options for this. As a teacher, I tend to notice what my students are reading and then I recommend those books to other parents. It’s an easy way for me to find books that I know my students will probably enjoy, and then it has the added benefit of letting the children read the same books/series, which is something they really enjoy doing.
So, the easiest thing to do is talk to (or email!) your child’s teacher or the school librarian. They should have several helpful suggestions to get you started
Another way you can do this is to just google ‘popular books for third graders’, but for this, you have to be careful!
The top search for this leads to a blog titled “22 Best Books for 3rd Graders”. This sounds great, until you look at the list and realize it could have been written in the 1980’s. Stuart Little, Pippi Longstocking, The Boxcar Children, Judy Blume.....The majority of my students have never (and probably will never) choose to read these books.
They all like Geronimo Stilton. They LOVE The Land of Stories. By the end of this past year, at least half of my class was in the midst of reading this series. I had a student who was a bit below grade-level at the beginning of the year, but I noticed her reading this thick chapter book around November...and the more she read it, the faster her reading improved. I suggested the first book in the series to another girl and they would sit together during DEAR time, reading and whispering about what was happening.
And that was enough for me to recommend it to quite a few parents during my next parent-teacher meetings, and they were so happy to be told explicitly which book to buy that the majority of their kids brought their new books with them to class the following week.
So...how do you find the interesting books? Fantasy books are usually good. GoodReads. Common Sense Media. Kids Book Reviews...There are sites with some good suggestions, but you just have to take the time to look and research.
Well...I’ve reached my word count limit! Thanks for reading my first blog!
Next time....Fly Guy?!?
And coming soon - Reading with your Infant; Reading with Toddlers; Using Reading Apps with your Toddlers...