“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves”
For homework help this week, I am going to introduce readers to creating a reading environment for new readers. If you do not have a new reader, please read anyway! Lots of info that pertains to families with all kinds/levels of kids!
During my graduate studies (in Reading Specialist) at Ball State University, I did a master’s thesis about children who learn to read without any reading instruction. That is, the kids just suddenly started reading books without ever having phonics lessons, basal readers, or other “formal instruction.” It was a challenging thesis simply because there is so little data about it because of our “early school attendance age.” Seldom does a child learn to read “naturally” before age six or seven, and with kids going to school at age five (and often beginning reading instruction in kindergarten), the research was sparse concerning these “instructionless” readers.
I did find enough, however, and I was also blessed to find a family who had a natural reader to compare the printed data with. My observations, coupled with the studies in teaching journals, etc., led me to find what I called the “environment” in which natural readers are raised. This led me to other lines of thinking—if a child can learn to read with absolutely no instruction in a literary-saturated environment, wouldn’t this environment be conducive to helping those who DO receive instruction learn to read better, more easily, and more naturally?
The answer, of course, was yes. Study after study shows the type of environment that causes kids to learn better. Duplicating the “natural reader’s” environment can only help our kids learn better. Maybe our creating this “literary atmosphere” will not automatically make our six year old pick up a book and begin reading, but if it makes the learning process (actually any/all learning processes) easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful, why wouldn’t we want to duplicate it in our homes for all of our kids?
Tomorrow and the next day I will detail this environment and its outcomes. But today I will leave you with a little hint: one of the characteristics of the home of a natural reader has something to do with the quote at the beginning of this post. Smile…