Reading about Reading
I can feel the word savor on my tongue. It makes me think of all things warm and happy. That word keeps coming to my mind as I read A FAMILY OF READERS, THE BOOK LOVER’S GUIDE TO CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano.
I was reminded of reading to my first grandson, Jimmy, when he was less than a year old. I read some of the books so many times that I still remember bits and pieces. Ah: Jesse Bear, What will you wear, what will you wear in the morning? My coat of red pulled over my head, my coat of red in the morning. (Nancy White Carlstrom) I may have a few of the words wrong, but the rhythm is still there, the lovely sound of the words, the joy of watching Jimmy’s face.
I felt the same joy reading A FAMILY OF READERS, the essays are wonderful, the book selections lovely. But there’s one sentence that stands out. I’d like to see it in red, no, maybe in neon lights. The authors write: “The acquisition of reading skill and fluency is not, and should not, be ever-forward: not every book should be more difficult than the one that’s read before?”
What it makes me think of is this. There is such satisfaction, such a savoring that comes with reading a book which will be comfortable, a book in which we know almost every word. Even more satisfying is rereading a story. How superior we feel. We know what’s going to happen next!
But in preparing for the reading tests, is there time to savor the words, the rhythm, the joy that children begin to feel as we prepare them to be life-long readers? Is there time to read to them, to read with them? I do believe that the emphasis on passing standardized tests will eventually take its place in the curriculum, that someday we’ll be emphasizing the leisurely moving ahead so that kids don’t feel rushed, that they enjoy the process (and teachers, too.)
In the meantime, do read A FAMILY OF READERS. You will chuckle over the piece by John Scieszka, you’ll so enjoy “Waking Dreams” by Jane Langton. Actually I think you’ll love it all. Let me know what you think!