Monday, March 16, 2015

Creating (and Keeping!) Young Readers

I just finished reading through my Reading Today Journal that I receive because I am a member of the International Literacy Association. (Which, on a side note, if you love reading, love teaching reading, or love instilling a love of reading in others- you should become a member of this association- see the end of the post for more details!) The article that struck me the most from this edition of the journal was called "For the Love of Reading: Five methods to instill a lifetime of good habits" by: Pam Allyn. Here is my reflection on that article:

In her article, she describes five different things that we as parents, educators, members of society as a whole, can do to make sure that our young people (as early as birth) are being read to and are reading themselves. Well, not the babies, but you get the idea! Find those kids and find them books and READ! I love this article because it seems like common sense. It seems like everyone knows that we should foster a love of reading in kids. It seems like we don't need to remind people- but we do! It's a busy world out there and we need to stop and smell the pages! Or in our technological time we live in, click to flip those crisp, digital pages!

As a teacher, her first tip, to "read aloud", is my favorite. I LOVE reading aloud to students. Now, it's not always happening, as I totally understand that kids have to read on their own- but when it's applicable- I cannot resist reading to students! The look on their faces when they come and sit around as you read- you can visually see the change. My all time favorite read-aloud book (probably good for grades 4-6) is called Skeleton Man by: Joseph Bruchac. You can check it out here. It's amazing. I don't even want to explain why it's amazing (because I don't want to give it away), but you should get it and read it to your class. Right now. They will love it and so will you. Oh, and that moment I was talking about before. Pam Allyn references it in her article as a "bonding experience" and she's absolutely right. There's just something special that happens when you read aloud to a child that you don't know until you've seen it.

Her next point, to "encourage reading from a young age" also hits close to home because I am a mom of two small children. My husband, a middle school math teacher, and I love to read to our kids. We also love that they fight us for "one more book" at night and that my son, who turns 4 in June, is starting to "read" to his little sister, who just turned 2. There's that bonding experience that Pam Allyn was talking about- happening right in my sons bedroom when he's not even 4 years old. Reading! It's magical! Allyn gives tips- like using picture books and asking questions- all great ways to get young readers involved in a text. When they start to value a book at a young age- it will carry on for their lifetime!

The next point, "make the journey a celebration", is really interesting- especially for kids who love attention to detail like I do! She suggests that we "pause and celebrate" the reading as they go- to make a big deal out of even the small moments. I love seeing this in my small reading groups- when a student recognizes a word and reads it correctly- especially one they have been struggling with. We ALWAYS stop and have a little moment- after all, learning something new is a great accomplishment! Never forget to give your students credit!

Up next is "hand them a pen" and as you can imagine- it has to do with writing. I love that she reminds us that kids of all ages can "create." They don't have to be writing five paragraph essays in response to a novel- they can "write or create" anything in response to their reading and that is putting them on the right path. Sometimes I forget that every little step in the right direction matters. Teaching reading is oftentimes a challenge- and like I said above- never forget to give your students credit.

The last of the five tips is "honor each child's unique identity" and more than us doing that- I love how Allyn points out that we should have kids do it. She says to "invite readers to pay close attention to their reading processes" and I think this is genius. We need our students to be little self-aware beings if we want them to own their learning. Don't forget to encourage them to look inward every now and again. Goodness knows that we (as the reading specialists and teachers) keep plenty of data on our students- but let's try and get our students to keep some mental data of their own!

I'm going to sum this up with the final thought, as shown in this screenshot from the article. Again- if you are looking for this article or support for any of the quotes in this reflection- it is from the Reading Today Journal from the International Literacy Association and it is called "For the Love of Reading: Five methods to instill a lifetime of good habits" by: Pam Allyn.

For more info about ILA or to join, go to their website here and notice a $10 off discount code!


  1. Great post, Kristin! Pam Allyn is definitely a literacy leader. :)
    Literacy Loving Gals

  2. Thanks! I loved this article! Also, I linked to this on Twitter and she responded! AND @LitLifePD featured this post on Twitter! Very exciting!!

    1. And I meant to add to check out my Gallery- where you can see the @LitLifePD tweet!