Saturday, June 28, 2014

Puree Your Reading! (by a Literacy Alliance friend)

Did you know that the single most important predictor of success in college is the ability to read for information? How do I know? I heard it at a workshop recently at my school. I’m a high school teacher. I don’t teach reading. But really all teachers teach reading to some degree or another. As I listened to the information in the meeting my mind wandered to my two daughters. I’m a mom too. I have my little E-worm who could break the bank with the number of books she adds to her electronic reader. On the flip side I have my Challenger. She thinks the best use of a heavy book is to hold down the lid on the hamster cage so there is no escape from her favorite furry friend. She will be going into the fourth grade, the year when students begin to make the shift from learning to read to reading for information. Fourth grade can be a make or break year for kids and I want her to make it!

So how do we get from hamster cage to college success? We’re working on it a little bit at a time. My current method reminds me of the approach some parents take to get their kiddos to eat vegetables. They puree the veggies and sneak them into the yummy mac-n-cheese. With my Challenger I can set a whole plate of spinach in front of her and she will say YUM! But ask her to read a chapter book and I get a definite YUCK! I am not eating that! I have to rethink how to feed this beautiful little mind of hers.

Here’s what we’ve done so far to “puree” reading for my Challenger. It’s an approach that takes no advanced planning but lots of patience and lots of attention to daily life and the opportunities that just pop up. Here are the everyday, and some not so everyday, things we do to get my daughter reading for information.

  1. The internet. This is not my favorite because it always leads to a discussion of what we can and cannot buy. But it does work. My daughter loves to research how to spend her allowance. This involves searching, reading product details, and sometimes product reviews.
  2. Television. It might not surprise you that my Challenger loves to watch TV. The good news. . . with the guide feature of cable and satellite there is a written summary of each show. She likes to read and find out what her “Little Ponies” will be up to today.
  3. Toy directions. Not an everyday occurrence but a lot of reading involved. She wanted to build an island to match her favorite TV show. We went to Michaels and bought a kit. There were 11 steps in the directions; each step was multiple paragraphs long. It felt like a chapter book as we watched the island come to life with each step.
  4. Little things. Checking the weather on the phone, reading menus at restaurants, and signs or maps when we go out and about.
  5. Play acting. Our local elementary library is open on Wednesdays. The leader is so clever. She has the kids put on puppet shows. How does she puree? They have to read a script. But they love doing the show so much that they don’t even notice they’re reading. They also read and perform jokes. Sometimes they do magic! It’s definitely magical in more ways than one and we go home thrilled! Check your local library for free programs where books come to life.
  6. Reading recipes. Last but not least and this one is probably my favorite. Thank you to Grandma! You can’t make chocolate chip pancakes without reading the Bisquick box. Can you think of a better reason to read for information?
These are just a few of the ideas I am working with to feed my Challenger. But there are more ideas out there. Have fun pureeing your reading!