TRUCKEE, Calif. - Where is your favorite reading spot? Maybe that cozy chair by the window where the sun pours in just right, or on a pile of pillows on the floor with friends. Perhaps it is a grassy hillside or a tree house or the comfy old rocking chair in the school library.
Regardless, of where you like to read, it's a great question to ask when we consider how to inspire our students to read more and ultimately ensure we have students reading at grade level by third grade.
Why? Reading proficiency by third grade is a primary indicator of academic success. However, we not only want readers who are proficient at literacy skills, we also want readers who want to read; readers who have the interest in picking up a book to read for pleasure or to learn something new.
The top cited way to inspire children (or anyone) to read and enjoy books is to read aloud to them. According to the 1985 landmark report, Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading, reading aloud was identified as "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading."
Students at all grade levels can enjoy listening to stories. The Truckee Noon Rotary club has volunteers that read aloud to Truckee state preschool students weekly and also volunteer reading with 1st-3rd grade students at Truckee Elementary.
Dianne Fix, former owner of and teacher at Church of the Mountains Preschool, does volunteer reading at elementary school classrooms, public and private preschools, and the Truckee Pines Head Start program.
As part of the Tahoe Truckee Reads plan, we are working to expand such read aloud programs to other state subsidized preschools. It's a great connection between the community and the students and yields so many benefits - to readers and non-readers.
The benefits of reading aloud, as listed by Dr. Steven Layne in his book, Igniting a Passion for Reading, include increased reading comprehension, improved listening skills, a broadening of vocabulary, and contributes to building lifetime readers.
Let's inspire children to want to read. How do we do it? Where do we start? Well, you're reading right now. Where are you and what are your surroundings that makes it comfortable for reading? From school to home to the library and anywhere else a child has the opportunity to read, let's think about what we can do to make it an inviting and comfortable place.
Having books on a shelf is not always enough to inspire a child to read. Making reading a part of daily life, having a comfortable place to read, and seeing role models, such as older students, parents, and teachers, enjoying reading all are parts of inspiring children to love reading. Having designated reading spaces big or small shows children that reading is important.
Our schools and teachers work hard to teach reading skills and inspire children to read. As parents, business leaders and a community, we also play a role in helping to inspire children to read. Let's start by thinking about what makes a great reading spot.
This month, we asked students and the community to share their favorite reading place. For example, at Glenshire Elementary, Kings Beach Parent Co-op preschool and the Truckee Library, a bulletin board was dedicated to this project.
Under the title of "My Favorite Reading Spot," children and grown-ups had the opportunity to write down and share their favorite reading location. If you have children (of any age) or a neighbor or a friend, ask them where they like to read - they may surprise you!
As a community, let's ask, "Do we have cozy reading spots at home, at school, the libraries, and other places in the community?" If not, how can we create more inviting spaces? Then grab a book, get comfortable and start reading!
- Kerry Eastman Stendell is coordinator for Tahoe Truckee Reads, a coalition of partners committed to improving the reading success of Tahoe Truckee youth. Learn more at www.exined.org.