“Mommy,” the eldest started, “based on my reading, what we do for tea time is not actually real tea time. It seems that tea time involves cake. And sandwiches. And scones.”
And with that, I would encourage all who enjoy a simple tea time of just tea to keep their kids away from the Redwall books.
(just kidding.) I was happy to change our simple tea to include a special treat, all for the sake of encouraging independent reading.
Last year I shared on Instagram about our journey with Judah’s independent reading;
Once upon a time I thought he would never read. Reading lessons made him cry. So I backed off. Way off. We worked on phonics, but at our own pace. For practicing reading aloud he would only do a couple sentences at a time. All of this was slow and way “behind” his peers, but all with a longer term goal in mind – we wanted him to love books. The biggest goal was not to make him read, but rather to nurture a love for books.
Then one day he wanted to read rather than play Lego. That was crazy. And things just took off and haven’t stopped.
It was hard to cut the “formal” reading lessons down, especially when I compared ourselves to others. But holding back for that short season (kinder/grade 1) has resulted in a thriving reader in grade 2.
None of this is a race. Kids develop so differently from each other, and I am so thankful we can nurture a love and passion for learning and let them bloom when they are ready.
This has been our journey – slow and steady.
Grade two was the “sweet spot” in reading for our oldest. He is now in third grade and has only grown more and more in his love for books.
The youngest is now in second grade and hasn’t hit that sweet spot. He loves being read to and loves his audio books, but is rarely seen reading something that he wasn’t asked to read.
And that’s ok!
Different child, different road, different speed.
We have carved out different reading nooks around the house to encouraging curling up and getting lost in another world. Books are in almost every room of the house (the youngest does enjoy picture books and comic books and will read those independently!) There is a trampoline and hammock outside which have been enjoyable places to read.
I read a lot of reading lists, talk to friends with older children, and then stock up on good books. We have lots (and lots and lots!) of books in many genres and by many more authors. I keep some special interest books off to the side to recommend when I think reading needs to be rekindled. Now that Judah is solidly reading (he averages a few books a week) I have asked him to not read the same genre twice in a row, and to try to be aware enough to switch between many genres. I’m not certain how that would work for every personality – I feel like my youngest would simply never complete a series, whereas my oldest would become overly consumed (hence the request). He was happy to comply and decided on his own that when he reads through a series he will read two different books between each book in the series.
Maybe one day Judah will actually review his recommendations, but for now here is a list of 13 books that he has enjoyed reading on his own:
1 The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
2 Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
3 Redwall by Brian Jacques
4 Books by Enid Blyton. He has read many of her books, most of which run in series. Some are; Famous Five, Magic Faraway Tree, Secret Seven, the Adventure series (Circus of Adventure, Island of Adventure, etc.)
5 Garfield comics
6 Calvin and Hobbes comics
7 My Side of the Mountain – Paul recommended he read this and once he completed it he brought it to me and begged me to read it too. There is something remarkably special about your child recommending a book to you.
8 The Hardy Boys (the original series)
9 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
10 Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales – we had read these previously together but he has enjoyed them on his own after being gifted the complete works in one volume.
11 Ladd Family Adventures – Paul and I both grew up reading these and we have a growing collection for the boys.
12 Books by E Nesbit – she has so many wonderful stories! Some of his favorites have been The Phoenix and the Carpet, Five Children and It, The Story of the Amulet, Railroad Children, and The Enchanted Castle
13 Chronicles of Narnia – between being read these, listening to the audio books, and reading them himself I think he has been through these stories no less than half a dozen times each. He hasn’t tired of the classic stories!