by Basilisa Perkins, mother of 2 and public health educator in Broward County, FL. Advocate for her girls and, at times, homeschool teacher to her daughter with special needs.
Kate and I started a reading challenge 2 years ago. We would read 100 books together.
I want Kate to love books, but not just because learning to read and reading to learn are inextricably connected. Reading is a struggle for Kate, who overcame tough odds of a medical condition. I want her to love books because they open worlds and ideas far away from her own limitations.
It’s the same dreams, wonderment and knowledge we want to open up for poor kids and struggling readers…really all kids with life roadblocks beyond their control. They deserve it.
Reading ability doesn’t need to dictate how much fun kids can have with books. If your child struggles with reading, you could accompany him or her on the journey of finding and enjoying great books.
Kate and I are still working on our 100-book goal, and it has profoundly affected our relationship. Here’s some of what we do:
Reading aloud is not only for struggling or reluctant readers. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with your kids. Reading aloud to children even fifteen minutes per day can add up to many hours of great books in a year, which increases their vocabulary, and their interest in literature.
Kate picks the book and we read it to her in bed or on the couch, sometimes during breakfast. Other times, we use read aloud time to practice with books that were within her reading ability. I would read one page and she would read the next page, with assistance as needed. This was a less intimidating way to approach reading, with support and encouragement.
For our family, audiobooks have been the ultimate game changer. We discovered with our child is an auditory learner.
There are many free resources for audiobooks. We also have a subscription to Learning Ally, which is a digital source for books for children with special learning needs. Right now we mostly use our library to get audiobooks on CD, which we listen to together during our rides in the car. We made our car time reading time, and this past school year we read eleven chapter books by listening to them on CD. Kate doesn’t miss a beat and, as I learned this year, we need to turn off the book at least a block before our destination or it’s hard to get her out of the car.
When we started our reading challenge we began to track each book we read together in a special reading log. We write down the title, the author and how we read it; whether it was a read aloud, by her or us or audiobook. It’s a great way to keep track of our progress and our child’s interests and preferences, especially when looking for the next book to read. We are up to 84 books.
Talk about it
What matters most is not the number, but that she loves books, the stories they contain and the characters she meets and befriends in the process. The next best part is that we are doing this together. We talk about what we’re reading and learning from these great books. At times I stop the book and ask questions like, “What do you think is going to happen next?” We also talk about the issues brought up in the story, or how to fix the problem. The best part is we are developing critical thinking skills, all while having fun together.
When we reach the end of a book it’s bittersweet. We have to say goodbye to the characters, but we get excited thinking about what we want to read next. My daughter has learned that reading is challenging, but rewarding. The challenge then is choosing the next book. With so many wonderful books to choose from, what is our next adventure going to be?
Kate’s Top Picks this Summer
- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett
- Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
- Fudge-A-Mania by Judy Blume