Quick reading reminder

I was reminded yesterday about the importance of the distinction between reading out loud and reading silently.  The way we think we know how kids’ reading is progressing is by listening as they read out loud.  Reading out loud is a performance, though.  It calls upon not only the cognitive processes required to absorb meaning from text (reading) but those required to speak the text fluently.  It’s an extra job to have when kids are already doing a job that’s new and sometimes challenging for them.

What it sounds like when they’re reading out loud can’t necessarily give us any kind of accurate idea of what happens when they’re reading to themselves.  I’ve met too many kids who think they’re not good readers because they’re not great at the presentation of what they’re reading – the out loud part.  Reading out loud is reading plus presentation.  Reading to yourself is reading.

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Like Reading?

Kids often tell me they don’t like reading, except for things they like.

What the heck?  I can’t tell you how many zillions of times I’ve heard this.  Somehow we’re giving them the impression that  these People Who Like Reading that they’ve heard of and know about like reading everything.  When I encounter this, I assure whomever it is, up one side and down the other, that this is not the case. I know because I’d make a good Exhibit A.  I love reading things I like and want to read, and I detest reading anything I don’t like and don’t want to read.  It sounds ridiculous.

One way we could probably curb this confusion is to stop saying simply that we love to read.  It’s usually not true, anyway, without the rest of the sentence.  It’s like I was saying here about finishing the sentence to make it true.  Unless you really just plain love to read anything that’s put in front of you – love it for the reading of it and not anything to do with the content – you could do many kids a great service by saying something like “I love to read when the writing’s really good,” or “I love to read books that are about people like me,” or “I love to read road signs,” or “I love to read magazines.”  Then they’d start to get a more accurate picture of this reading world of ours, in which we all have taste and rarely read just because there are words in front of us and we want to spend time reading them because we don’t have anything better to do.

Let them know there’s something in it for you, and then they’ll have the freedom to find out whether or not there might be anything in it for them.

Roscoe Riley Rules

The Roscoe Riley series has recently lit up one of the reluctant readers I know, so I figured I better include a quick mention, though I’m sure it’s probably already popular with most library-frequenters.  My young reading friend shared a passage that had us both chuckling, in which Roscoe describes his fractured femur as a “busted leg.”  Roscoe’s narrative voice (thanks to author Katherine Applegate) feels spirited and authentic.  The stories seem to revolve primarily around school, where Roscoe finds himself to be something of a trouble magnet.  Each book in the series has as its subtitle the cautionary tale told inside: Never Swim in Applesauce, Never Swipe a Bully’s Bear, Don’t Tap Dance on Your Teacher, Don’t Swap Your Sweater for a Dog, Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs, and the latest Never Walk in Shoes that Talk.  The chapters are short, and there’s plenty of white space on the pages.