What happens when my babies have to be drug along to my end-of-year (mostly adult) staff party? They VOLUNTARILY (I swear) bring books to read.
No, they didn’t sit and read the whole time, they found other things to do, like playing with other kids and playing on my phone. However, we are so accustomed to having books tag along with us wherever we go, that’s what they walked in with.
Last weekend I decided to do some Spring Cleaning of the kids’ bookshelves. We had recently received some free books and of course I never stop buying books, so things were getting a little messy. Now in reality, they both need new bookshelves, but that’s wasn’t an option, so downsizing it is.
My daughter is my oldest child at 8 and she loves to read. As she’s grown as a reader, so have her interests. She flies through Junie B. Jones and other chapter books now, while the Strawberry Shortcake and Berenstain Bear books haven’t moved from their spot on the shelf in quite some time.
Now the process of going through her bookshelf is pretty easy, I let her start on her own, just telling her a couple of parameters, like get rid of any board books or books that are too damaged. Then I come in and help her decide if there’s any others to let go of. But when I walked into her bedroom, she said these words, “I should get rid of my Mo Willems books, right?”
Ok, so logically, the answer should be yes. These books by Mo Willems are wonderful, but when it comes to the reading level, she definitely has surpassed it, as well as some of the content. However, the illogical side is what actually came out of my mouth:
She wants to get rid of Mo Willems books? My first born wants to let go of the books that I first read to her, that we first cracked up over, that she asked for night after night, and that she was first able to tag team with me and read?
As Elephant and Piggie, or even the Pigeon might say, “I’m not ready!”
…And that’s what I told her. I said, “I’m not ready for you to give those up yet, so keep them on there.”
Back to the logical side of me, that answer made no sense. The whole point was to clear some space on the shelf, and she has ALL 3 Knuffle Bunny books, 3-4 Pigeon books (hardcover), and probably 4 different Elephant and Piggie books. This would’ve given her a lot of room on the shelf. But I couldn’t (and still can’t) detach myself from all the memories I have with her and those books, so I made her keep most of them. Most? Yes, I let her get rid of a couple of them…but she had to give them to her brother in the room next door. Mama still wins.
I want her to continue to grow as a reader, as you also should in your quest to raise readers, so that does mean making some difficult (for the adult) decisions about letting go of books, especially ones another child could enjoy. So one day I’ll let her give them up…maybe.
(If you have any suggestions for how I can more easily detach myself from these books, I’m more than open to suggestions in the comments below. Also, if you haven’t already figured it out, if you haven’t read Mo Willems with your child, you should.)
Wait, don’t think I’m going to bash teachers. I can’t. I won’t. I’m one of them. Also, teaching is hard. It was hard when I was a student and it is difficult in completely different ways now that I don’t even have the time to explain. You should definitely show your appreciation to your child’s teachers. I’m not even suggesting monetarily, but a nice card or letter showing your appreciation is always accepted.
The reason for the “but…” is that there’s one thing I want you to remember as you continue #RaisingReaders:
Or, its also been phrased this way:
Do teachers need to be appreciated? Yes, definitely. And not just during this week, but all school year long. But just as a reminder, you are also your child’s teacher, arguably their most important one. Keep teaching!
One day this week my daughter didn’t take her daily folder back to school, and it was my fault.
Here’s the thing–her daily folder includes a reading log, where she has to log the number of minutes she reads each evening. Not my favorite, but fine, whatever. Now although I have my kids do their homework as soon as they get home, reading a book is not always part of that routine. Sometimes it is, usually when they bring a book from school or I brought new books my school home for them to preview. Instead, they spend most of their time reading at night, in the bed. After we read together, she grabs the book of her choice and that’s how my daughter has fallen asleep just about every night since she learned to read. As a result, I have to remember to sign her sheet in the morning and log (guess-timate) how much time she read the previous night. The end of the school year is nearing, and this was actually the first time we forgot her folder. (And if you ever saw my family trying to get ready and leave the house in the mornings, you would realize how much of a feat it is that this was the first time.)
The thing is, I get what her teacher is trying to do. Students need to be reading at home on a regular basis, and this is a way to keep track of it. However, in my #RaisingReaders quest, I want to instill in my children that reading is not something that is done just for homework or to fill in a reading log, but something that is enjoyable, useful, and can be done just about anytime. As the author of the beloved Ramona books, Beverly Cleary said:
I mean, we do our homework at the kitchen table. How often do you read at the kitchen table?
Exactly. You get in the bed, in your comfy couch/chair, or on the porch/deck and get into a good book. I want reading to feel natural and comfortable to my kids, so it takes a little more effort on my part to take note of how long before she falls asleep each night and to remember to fill out the log in the morning, but in the long term, if I can actually #raisereaders, its totally worth it.
I’m pretty predictable when it comes to child-rearing, and I’m so ok with it. I was one of those moms with a strict feeding schedule when my kids were babies, our weekday mornings are pretty routine, and of course our bedtime rituals are pretty consistent, minus the nights I am ready to pull out my hair (OMG how many times do I have to tell them to pick up dirty underwear?) or nights like this night.
My daughter and I are currently reading the Whatever After series. We’re on book #4, and although we have purchased a couple of them, most of the time we check the books out from the library. Money saver of course, however, it also means that we have to get through the book in the two weeks that we have it.
So that shouldn’t be a problem, right? I mean, I love to read, she loves to read, we both love this series, no issues, right? Well, remember where I explain my parenting style as routine and pretty much creature of habit? That pretty much means we do a chapter a night. It’s just long enough for us to maintain interest, get our giggles in, and keep the story going. But its not long enough for us to finish it in two weeks, especially since there’s more than 14 chapters, and there’s usually an errant night here or there where I read with both kids, my husband may read with her (this is our thing, he’s not allowed to read it) or (gasp!) we miss a night of reading. So often, we either renew it or return it and end up having a long gap before we are able to finish the book.
On this particular night, we are only on chapter 6 of 19, its Monday, and the book is due back on Saturday! We are just getting into the thick of the plot and as usual, we don’t want to stop reading after I finished chapter 6. She wanted me to keep going, and that’s not unusual, however, what was unusual was my decision to actually read another chapter. Was it super short you ask? Not particularly. But you know, sometimes a mama has to switch it up a bit. I could tell she was surprised that I decided to keep going, but I didn’t make a big deal about it and neither did she. Now did she still ask me to read a 3rd chapter? Of course. Did it happen? Not on your life. Baby steps.
My take away for you from this evening’s event is to switch things up every once in a while. Routines are great and most of the time they make my life a lot easier. However, I am aware enough to know that while I want my children to be organized people and I want them to see the benefits of routine, I also want them to understand that flexibility is also important. So it is just as important to me to show that side to my children. Also, as a book lover myself, sometimes you just can’t put the book down!
*The Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski are books about Abby and her younger brother Jonah who have found a magic mirror that can transport them to various fairy tales. Somehow, some way, the two of them always make some sort of mistake that could ruin the story, and they have to fix the fairy tale before they find their way back home. So, if you have a younger child (1st or 2nd grade) who loves princesses and fairy tales, or loves to giggle, this may be the read aloud for you. If your child has the same interests and is older, then this may be one they want to read independently, although I still think it would make a good bedtime together read for them too. 🙂