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For the Love of Reading
For the Love of Reading
Reading was always a big part of my childhood. My father would read to me every night and it became a ritual that went well into the 8th grade. Reading was more than just learning new information or being transported to a new world through stories, it became a part of who I was and who I am today. My father’s diligent duty to come home and read to me after a long day at work helped develop a love for reading on my own and exposed me to new ideas and stories. The effects of this shared experience have stayed with me long after the last book my father read to me. I’ve come to realize reading is a social experience through sharing information, providing new insight, and experiencing emotions through the eyes of the author. Reading as a social construct can be as intimate as a shared experience with the author or discussing (or enjoying) the book with friends and family. This type of experience can and should happen at all levels of reading, from pre-reading to total reading, from birth until elder years. 

So how does the Montessori environment prepare a child to experience this type of reading? For starters, it provides the children with the building blocks that will lay the foundation for reading. As a child moves through the language activities, he is developing all of the essential tools that are needed for reading. From developing solid phonetic awareness (sandpaper letters) to creating his own words and understanding written words are thoughts made visible (movable alphabet), the child begins his journey to becoming literate. After countless times creating his own words through the movable alphabet, the child sees “cat,” “sat,” and “trip” in a picture book, connects it to the appropriate picture, and realizes he can create meaning out of these symbols. The Montessori environment provides an experience where all of a sudden a child realizes, and absolutely relishes in the fact that he can read “cat” or “trip” on his own, and he can connect the two meanings of each word to understand something in a larger context. 

The different Montessori language activities also provide scaffolding for the child’s reading development. Children start by matching single phonetic words to pictures or objects, and then move on to matching sentences to pictures (“the cat is on the mat” matches to a picture). This activity provides the child with the experience of using pictures to aid reading, an important skill to help develop endurance for reading short books. Lastly, teachers are wonderful models for literacy. Reading books during circle time, creating stories with children, and engaging in oral storytelling, are wonderful ways teachers help develop a love of reading for many young children. 

Reading should not be a chore or a dreaded task. It should be enjoyable and fulfilling. Pushing a child to read before he is ready may have the undesired effect of pushing the child away from reading all together. At the end of the day, if the child is not having fun or interested in doing these activities, it tells me one of two things, the child is not ready for this activity or we need to develop a love for reading. Every child moves at his or her own pace and to rush through the development of these fundamental skills would be an injustice to the child and his future as a reader. Reading is more than just a sense of accomplishment. It’s finding the joy within what you’re reading and taking that joy into the world. 

Tips for what to do to make reading fun:

  • Stock up on lots of different books in different genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fact books, wordless books, etc.)! 
  • Don’t forget poetry! The play on words in poetry is a great way to make reading fun (Shel Silverstein is a great Poet for children)
  • Buy a series of books with the same characters in each story. The familiarity of the characters help children connect with the story (Curious Gorge, Frog and Toad, George and Martha).
  • Bring your child to the bookstore as a special treat and let them pick out a book to bring home! Giving your child the freedom to choose a book allows them to take ownership of their reading experience.
  • On the weekends (or better yet, every day) set aside Reading Time where you and your child(ren) individually “read” books (Remember: reading is not just reading words, it can be looking at pictures). This provides a time for you to model reading behaviors and it shows your child reading is important to you and your family.
  • Reading can take on many different forms. Reading pictures to tell a story is just as important as reading words. This skill helps children develop reading comprehension skills and ordering of events. 
  • Think of family stories you can tell from memory. Oral story telling is a beautiful way to connect with your child and share your family’s culture, heritage, and memories. 
  • Use different voices for characters and dramatize stories! This will create memories your child will hold on to for a lifetime. (I can still hear my Dad’s voices for the storybook characters, George and Martha).

By Jang BongYoung Date 2018/1/17
By Adeline Loong Date 2017/2/17
By Karen Chanpeng Date 2016/12/22
By Artem Liebenthal Date 2017/2/21
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