Columbia University professor Lucy Calkins inspired a generation of teachers to help young children become better readers.
One of her books is a parents’ guide to raising lifelong learners, and it offers some very good advice.
Her basic counsel is that good things come to those who read. If children read avidly and read a lot, they will write better, spell better, they will know more, and they will care more.
For parents, it is critical not only to support reading, but also to do it the appropriate way.
She paints two different pictures to illustrate her point. In the first scenario, the parent asks a child arriving home from school if she has any homework. The child says, “Yes, I need to read.”
The parent says, “It’s good to get your homework done right away. Why don’t you go to your room, sit at your desk, and do your reading? It really matters. That’s how you get ahead — by reading.”
That’s one way to support reading. Here’s another: The parent greets the child by saying, “You’ve had a really long day at school. I bet you’re ready for time to rest and snuggle. Why don’t we each get our books and read here on the sofa? I’m in the middle of mine now.”
“I don’t know that book you’re reading. What’s it like? You are so lucky to have teachers point you to great books like that.”
The professor says that while both approaches support reading, the second conveys the message that reading is one of life’s great gifts.
And that can make all the difference.