Sunday, May 31, 2009


I recently read an interesting book, Freakonomics, where an economist studied all sorts of things like how much money drug dealers really make, how to track teacher misconduct on standardized testing, baby naming trends, and parenting practices that make a statistical difference in the academic and professional success of their offspring.

You probably guessed that the last one had something to do with reading. You got it!

The number of books in the home was one of the top 5 factors in kids' later academic and professional achievement. The more books the family had, the more successful the kids were.

The authors didn't really hypothesize on why this is the case, they just presented the facts :), but my theory is that homes with lots books are homes were reading and learning are valued. The kids have so many good things available to read that they grow up thinking reading is fun. They learn so many fascinating things from their books that they think learning is fun too. They know their parents value reading and learning because there are lots of books in the house. Kids who think reading and learning are fun and know their parents believe it is important are bound to better in school.

So there is another reason to buy and read books for children from an unexpected, but interesting, source.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reading to Kids of Different Ages

A couple of weeks ago I read something in the Read Aloud Handbook that I thought was interesting. Jim Trelease said that if you have children who are more than three years apart you need to read to them seperately.

This was a light-bulb moment for me. When we read aloud at night to our children we are usually reading scripture and then something like the Chronicles of Narnia, Fablehaven, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, etc. And while our two oldest will sit there totally engrossed in the story begging for another page, or two littlest usually play trucks, talk to each other, and sometimes cause disruptions.
Anyway, when I read that I realized that because those two little kids could just not "get" the story the same way the big kids werethey weren't actively participating. Thus, they were not getting the same benefits that the other kids were. I'm sure it was better than not reading at all... at least they got the positive association with books, realized my husband and I value reading, etc.... but it was definitely not the best experience they could have.
Since, that day I've tried to make a conscious effort to read to these little ones during the day by themselves (or the two little ones together). The first time I asked my almost 5 year old to bring me some stories to read to him I was shocked at what he chose: touchy-feely, lift the flap board books, books that I thought he had outgrown. Then, I realized that just because his older brother wanted me to read him Harry Potter and Nancy Drew at that age, didn't mean this little guy was ready for that yet.
I am so glad I read that passage in the Read Aloud Handbook. I've really enjoyed re-discovering the joy of reading with my two little guys.
p.s. If you are interested in getting your own copy of the Read Aloud Handbook please let me know. I can get some through Usborne Books and More at a great deal right now.