Ready, Set, Read!
Lisa Picha, Lower School Psychologist
April 7-13 is National Library Week 2019. The American Library Association has been sponsoring National Library week since 1958. The goal is to “celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.”
Park Tudor has activities this month and throughout the year that highlight the division-level libraries such as Teen Read Week, Scholastic Book Fair and highlighting multicultural books for all grade levels. In celebration of our libraries, I would encourage everyone in our community to take a moment to visit a library and spend some time getting lost in a good book.
As I reflect on reading and time spent over the spring break enjoying time to read, I was reminded of something educators frequently say, and I have recommended too many times to count over the years to parents when asked how they can support their child’s reading - to read to and/or with them at home. It is typically recommended to read to or with your children for 20 minutes a day, and parents are encouraged to start this at a very young age, at least by SK. Here’s why: it’s generally well established statistically that reading 20 minutes daily exposes a student to 1.8 million words per year. This correlates with much higher achievement, and a student will have read 60 days by 6th grade when following this recommendation. Reading five minutes daily translates to 282,000 words per year and about 12 days by 6th grade. Students who read one minute each day are only exposed to 8,000 words a year and “would require one year to read what the best readers read in two days,” says Sally Shaywitz, M.D. Dr. Shaywitz goes on to say that “Books offer almost three times as many interesting or complicated words – words outside the general vocabulary of a sixth grader – compared to even the most educated speakers. Books for adult readers have about fifty rare words for every one thousand words; the spoken language of a college graduate has only about seventeen rare words per one thousand spoken words. Children’s books, too, have 50 percent more rare words in them than does the conversation of college graduates. And so, simply relying on even the most sophisticated conversations to increase vocabulary falls short of what can be gained through reading.”
Schools by their very nature are places that teach, model, and help students develop a love for reading and learning. Generally educators would agree that it’s important that there is a balance between reading for skill and reading for pleasure. For many students reading at school can be both, but for a reader who struggles or has not found a love of reading they may become increasingly disengaged from reading activities. This has recently been a topic of discussion by Pernille Ripp in her book Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. One point that especially hit home for me underscores the importance that adults play in helping students “find a book that speaks to them.” As we continue the work of teaching reading, let’s all support our student community by helping each of our students to find a book that doesn’t end with an activity they have to do but speaks to something that they are riveted by, want to know more about, makes them wonder, happy and joyful as we celebrate literature and literacy beyond a week in April.