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    Growing a reading_culture_report Growing a reading_culture_report Document Transcript

    • Growing a Reading Culture Just for Parents Aurea mediocritas
    • Charles Bayless Suite F-150 1579 Monroe Dr. NE Atlanta, Georgia 30306 February 1, 2010 Dear Reader Parent, The purpose of this report is to identify those activities which parents can undertake in order to create an environment in the home where their children are more likely to become habitual and enthusiastic readers. While bits and pieces of the report are more or less well known recommendations as part of general folk wisdom, (for example the injunction to read to your children), this is, we believe, the first effort to collate the field evidence from academics in such a way that a parent can quickly and easily see what works and what does not. We wish you all the very best in your efforts to give to your children the wonderful gift and love of reading. Regards Charles Bayless Charles.bayless@ttmd.com © Through the Magic Door 2
    • Copyright © 2010 Charles Bayless © Through the Magic Door 3
    • Table of Contents Letter Summary ............................................................................................................................. 5 Chapter I: The Status of Reading in America Today...................................................... 7 Chapter II: Reading as a Cultural Trait ......................................................................... 12 Chapter III: A Family Based Approach to Reading........................................................ 19 Chapter IV: Assumptions, Measurements, and Data Reliability .................................... 32 List of Figures Figure I - What is the Nature of the Problem? ........................................................ 8 Figure II - Changes in the Nature of Work ............................................................. 9 Figure III - Reading Concentration for High School and Adult Readers............. 10 Figure IV - Estimated Enthusiastic Reading Population by Income Quintile....... 11 Figure IV - Beginning Differentials ...................................................................... 13 Figure V - Sources of Influence on a Child by Time Spent.................................. 15 Figure VI - Risk Points for Abandoning Reading................................................. 18 Figure VII - Different Ways to Assess the Reading Problem ............................... 33 Figure VIII - Factors Influencing Personal Development..................................... 51 Figure IX – The Influence of Reading on Attribute Development ....................... 53 Figure X – Factors Shaping Individual Decision Making .................................... 54 Figure XI – Reading as an Intermediary Between Childhood Experience and Life Outcomes....................................................................................................... 55 Figure XII – Factors Shaping Individual Decision Making.................................. 56 APPENDICES Appendix A: Recognizing a Reading Culture – Example………………………………40 Appendix B: Hypothetical Model of How Enthusiastic Reading Influences Life Outcomes ………………………………………………………………………………..51 Appendix C: Reading and Life Effectiveness………………………………………….. 56 Appendix D: Activities for Supporting a Reading Culture in the Home……………......60 Appendix E: Tools for Identifying Barriers to Creating a Reading Culture ……………67 Appendix F: Tactical Actions to Address the Most Common Barriers to Creating a Reading Culture …………………………………………………………………………68 © Through the Magic Door 4
    • Summary Reading is a complex and individual activity and becoming a reader is a process that is in almost every case a unique combination of personal proclivities, life circumstances, and serendipity. There are almost as many paths towards becoming an enthusiastic reader as there are children and parents. What is uniform is the pleasure that habitual and enthusiastic reading provides to the reader and the utilitarian benefits in terms of life accomplishments that accrue to and are associated with enthusiastic and habitual readers1. For all that becoming a reader is a function of many unique circumstances, there are some broad features that are shared among participants in this journey. It is the purpose of this report to identify which of those activities are most likely to increase the probability of a child having a rewarding experience of reading and becoming a habitual and enthusiastic reader, of becoming an engaged reader. The research fields of education, psychology, childhood development, language studies, library sciences, etc. all approach the activity of reading from their distinct perspectives and with biases towards their distinct academic ends. We have perused all these fields in an effort to pull out those observations and recommendations which can be shown to be fact based and conducive to the end which we, and we believe most parents, seek: What can be done within the family to make it more probable that a child will learn to love reading and become a habitual and enthusiastic reader. There is no single silver bullet that accomplishes this end but the set of actions that the research reveals as effective are not complex or difficult to execute. An important observation arises from the review of the academic literature which is rarely highlighted and that is that reading is more than a skill. It is in fact a cultural trait. This is a key issue as America is a multi-cultural country. Where different cultures exist, there will be different outcomes and this is true not only for the US. While one might discuss “European” culture as a general set of behaviors and beliefs, as we refer to “American” culture, it is notable that in Europe there are marked differences in levels of reading participation and reading intensity depending on which specific regional culture within Europe you are referring to. In America we cloud this issue by referring to it as a race issue or an issue of poverty whereas all the evidence and statistical numbers point to it being an issue, not of race or wealth, but of culture. An additional observation is with regard to schools. As detailed in this report, US schools do an adequate job of equipping children with the skill to read such that the US population, as also with its peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, all the major developed countries of the world), has a literacy rate of 99%.2 This is not to say that the schools do this efficiently (cost per outcome) or indeed that all schools accomplish this but in aggregate they do it effectively (the stated objective, literacy, is achieved). US expenditures on schools are dramatically higher in absolute and relative terms to what they were thirty and fifty years ago without any © Through the Magic Door 5
    • material change in reading scores. Expenditures per student are not the root of the issue of America’s reading challenges. The goal of teaching children to read is being achieved (regardless of efficiency) but we still have very large numbers of children (and adults) that elect not to read or who read very little. In other words, schools do an adequate job of providing our children with the skills to read but are very poor at instilling the will to read. Regrettably, there are few studies that actually attempt to identify those activities which contribute to a culture of reading. There are many studies that investigate how schools might institutionally contribute to engaged reading but no one, in fifty years, has hit upon an effective answer that consistently delivers that outcome. The evidence we have amassed indicates that the inculcation of the will to read is a function of activities that occur within the home environment. Chapter 1 of this report, The Status of Reading in America Today, describes in some detail the nature of the reading challenge with which we are faced, a challenge somewhat different than is distilled for headline purposes into something like “Why Johnny Can’t Read”.3 We cover the nature of the reading challenge as well as the data that indicates why reading is so important, independent of the returns it provides in terms of personal satisfaction and pleasure. Chapter 2, Reading as a Cultural Trait , recapitulates the research evidence that supports the contention that reading is a cultural attribute most easily instilled within the culture of the home, as opposed to an issue of skill to be addressed through schools. Chapter 3, A Family Based Approach to Reading, outlines the thirteen attributes/activities which can be adhered to within the family environment that are likely to increase the probability of your child becoming an enthusiastic reader. Chapter 4, Assumptions, Measurements and Data Reliability, reviews some of the challenges associated with converting what would seem to be a practical set of contentions, into a data supported report. While not critical to the report itself, it does give a context for evaluating the recommended actions and the level of confidence you can have in the recommendations. © Through the Magic Door 6
    • Chapter I: The Status of Reading in America Today Reading is understood by most people to be a core capability required to function effectively in a modern, complex society. It attracts a great deal of attention, whether pedagogical, philosophical, political, or simply demagogical. The purpose of this report is first and only to discover what works. The first step in any problem solving methodology is to define the problem and determine how it can or ought to be measured. If we define the problem as simply having the capacity to read then there is no problem to become excited about. There is no crisis in reading. • Children are not becoming worse readers. • Illiteracy is a numerically minor issue. • The profile of US literacy is not materially different than the average of other OECD countries. We could amend the problem definition and focus on issues such as; it takes too long for children to become competent readers; it costs too much for our children to become proficient readers (in the past forty years, reading skills scores have not changed significantly despite an increased percentage of GDP devoted to education, a tripling of real dollar resources devoted to education, and a diminution of the student to teacher ratio); or possibly that certain groups of children are not demonstrating sufficient achievement in terms of standard reading performance tests. While all these might be discussions that are warranted they do not really address what most people are concerned about when they evince concern about reading. Based on performance scores, children are scoring basically as well as they did thirty and fifty years ago. It is not that children are reading less well. Rather, the reading skills required for life success are becoming greater. In order to continue to be successful in a modern, complex society, children can’t simply do as well as their parents did in the past, they have to do better. © Through the Magic Door 7
    • Figure I - What is the Nature of the Problem? The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), as part of its efforts to measure educational effectiveness across some sixty countries, describes the changing skills needed in modern economies as follows. It also reflects the reality of how globalization and computerisation are changing societies and labour markets. Work that can be done at a lower cost by computers or workers in lower wage countries can be expected to continue to disappear in OECD countries. This is particularly true for jobs in which information can be represented in forms usable by a computer and/ or in which the process follows simple, easy-to-explain rules. Box 2.1 illustrates this by analysing how skill requirements in the United States job markets have evolved over past generations. This analysis shows that the steepest decline in task input over the last decade has not been with manual tasks, as is often reported, but with routine cognitive tasks, i.e. those mental tasks that are well described by deductive or inductive rules, and that dominate many of today’s middle-class jobs. This highlights that if students learn merely to memorise and reproduce scientific knowledge and skills, they risk being prepared mainly for jobs that are disappearing from labour markets in many countries. In order to participate fully in today’s global economy, students need to be able to solve problems for which there are no clear rule-based solutions and also to communicate complex scientific ideas clearly and persuasively.4 Another observation based on the data in Box 2.1 is that there is declining demand for manual work and declining demand for skills that are routine or repetitive. There is an © Through the Magic Door 8
    • increase in demand for skills related to non-routine analytic and interactive skills, i.e. skills requiring conceptual thinking, social environment awareness, critical perception, etc. Skills that are fostered in part by enthusiastic and habitual reading. Figure II - Changes in the Nature of Work This changes the problem from being one of the simple capacity to read. We have accomplished that. Because, as with most human activities, practice makes perfect, better reading follows from more reading. We now need for more children to read more. The problem becomes one not of the capacity to read as we historically thought about it. The problem becomes one of children having the desire to read and demonstrating an enthusiasm for reading. Viewed in this light, our current performance is more dire. The challenge that we face is that there is a large attrition from childhood reading to young adult reading in the participation rates (how many people choose to read at all); a steady erosion in the volume of reading (the amount of time spent reading or the number of books which are read); as well as a worryingly high concentration of reading (the Pareto distribution of the percentage of population responsible for the percentage of books read). Across the OECD, between 45% and 55% of the population declines to read © Through the Magic Door 9
    • any books for pleasure in a given year (in the US the current participation rate is roughly 50%).5 This pattern is well established by the time children graduate from high school and remains in place through their adult years. These are people that have acquired the skill of reading but elect not to exercise that skill other than for work purposes or for the purposes of navigating day-to-day life in an advanced economy. This is often referred to as an issue of alliteracy – the capacity to read but not the desire. Even for the half of the population which does read, there is a remarkable concentration in reading. 10% of the population reads approximately 80% of the books purchased or circulated. 40% of the population is responsible for only 20% of books purchased or circulated.6 While virtually everyone is capable of reading, half are alliterate; they have chosen not to read for pleasure, and nearly half only read intermittently. The fact that 50% of our population is alliterate and that this alliteracy is already present when children graduate from high school, bodes ill for a future work force ever more dependent upon abstract, conceptual and critical thinking (all of which are fostered by healthy reading habits). A corollary issue relates to inequality of income. If a substantial portion of the population is alliterate, it is likely that over the long term, in a rapidly changing economy, they will suffer diminishing returns on the necessary minimum education they have achieved. It is also likely that, without continual self-improvement, there will be an unavoidable continuation in the rise of the Genie index for income inequality. Figure III - Reading Concentration for High School and Adult Readers Population Books Read 100% 10% 80% 40% 60% 80% 40% No 50% El ec 20% tiv e Re 20% adi ng The bulk of academic research into reading practices is overwhelmingly focused on what can be done in a school environment and, most particularly, what can be done to assist © Through the Magic Door 10
    • the most disadvantaged segments of the population. There is very little systematic or longitudinal research to identify what actually characterizes an enthusiastic reader or how they became such. While the raw data does not exist to firmly quantify the prevalence of reading at each income level, indirect data provides the basis for indicative estimates. It is believed that enthusiastic and habitual reading is a characteristic of a minority of individuals in every income quintile (though there is anecdotally a much stronger presence among the higher income quintiles). Figure IV - Estimated Enthusiastic Reading Population by Income Quintile 100% 4.5% of Σ Population 22.5% of Quintile 80% 3% of Σ Population 15% of Quintile 60% 1.5% of Σ Population 7.5% of Quintile 40% 20% 0.5% of Σ Population 2.5% of Quintile 0.5% of Σ Population 2.5% of Quintile For a country facing issues of a competitive global economy, a clear causative correlation between enthusiastic reading and productivity, an apparent limit to the capacity of schools to affect reading participation/intensity and finally concern about income inequalities, the central issue becomes – By what mechanism(s) can we increase reading participation rates, reading volumes and decrease reading inequality? © Through the Magic Door 11
    • Chapter II: Reading as a Cultural Trait Effective reading is the result of specific actions and behaviors inculcated in the family environment which produce the will to read (manifested in habitual and enthusiastic reading) married with the skill to read (usually imparted by schools). These actions and behaviors outweigh any influences based on such variables as race, IQ, income, gender or other various demographic vectors. For the majority of young people, enthusiastic and habitual reading is the single most predictive personal habit for the ability to achieve desirable life outcomes. Enthusiastic and habitual reading is primarily a function of the family environment and culture and it is most effectively inculcated in the earliest years (0 to 6 years) but can be accomplished at any age.7 Creating a reading culture can be achieved objectively and through a series of specific behaviors and activities undertaken by parents. It is not resource intensive but does require time, persistence and consistency. Effective and enthusiastic reading is a well-recognized pre-cursor to better skills acquisition, superior grades, and desirable life outcomes including income, profession, employment and other attributes.8 Attitudes towards reading are established early in a child’s life and substantially through the child’s family environment rather than through school.9 These attitudes remain stable over time and are significant predictors of future reading habits.10 Based not only on the experience of the US, but on a study of fifty- seven countries, home background “remains one of the most powerful factors influencing performance”11 The fact that the US educational process is predominantly governed and directed at a very local level (92% of funding deriving from local sources) has been both a tremendous strength as well as a challenge.12 They are flip sides of the same coin. Local control means that the capacity to design and execute in a fashion fit for local purpose is high. At the same time, and as a consequence, the capacity to implement standards of process, performance or results is very limited.13 Reading scores as measured by National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) have remained virtually unchanged over nearly forty years (286 in 2008 versus 285 in 1971 for Seniors, 260 in 2008 versus 255 in 1971 for 8th Graders and 220 in 2008 versus 208 in 1971 for 4th Graders).14 While the reading performance gap between majority and minority groups has closed materially since 1971, there remains an approximately 10% gap that has been stable for some twenty years since 1988.15 The US is a highly diverse country and that is reflected in its student population. This diversity is measurable on many vectors: income, wealth, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, religion, family structure, health, language, behavioral norms, etc.16 It is not surprising that different sub-cultures within the whole should show different aptitudes for different skills, professions, life-styles, etc. © Through the Magic Door 12
    • U.S. citizens, particularly those in urban environments, usually have a comparatively significant degree of educational freedom (compared to most other countries), choosing from public schools (and within public schools sometimes having the option of charter or magnet schools), private schools, religious schools and home-schooling. Great diversity with real freedom of choice ensures that there is likely to be large variances in outcomes. And that is what we find. Children enter grade school with already well established differences in language, reading and learning preparedness varying by factors of two or three in test score.17 In terms of reading capabilities, children beginning school demonstrate a reading range of as much as five years (first graders reading at a pre- school level all the way to a third grade reading level).18 These initial differences are substantially the consequence of the personal attributes of individual children amplified by their familial circumstances (family structure, parenting practices, primary language, social economic status (SES), parental education levels, behavioral attributes, family values, etc.)19 and the cultural values of their home environment.20 In fact, as documented by Susan B. Neuman, children beginning kindergarten show a material difference in capacity from the very beginning depending upon their social economic status (SES).21 Figure IV - Beginning Differentials Capability Lowest SES Highest SES Ability to recognize letters of alphabet 39% 85% Ability to identify beginning sounds of words 10% 51% Identifies primary colors 69% 90% Counts to 20 48% 68% Writes own name 54% 75% Amount of time having been read to prior to 25 hours 1,000 hours kindergarten22 Accumulated experience with words 13 million 45 million In terms of language exposure and acquisition, the Hart & Risley studies have documented that children from highly communicative families arrive at school having cumulatively heard more than three times the volume of words spoken interactively (45 million words versus 13 millions words) than those from more taciturn families. Language exposure is in turn tightly correlated with language acquisition which in turn is highly correlated with academic results.23 Those that had heard more words performed better academically than those that had heard fewer words and this initial academic performance gap remained in place as the children progressed through the grades. As a consequence of this fact of American diversity, schools then must work across this diversity of starting points in order to impart the desired skills, knowledge and values expected of their students.24 While international comparisons are always fraught with establishing true comparability, the US usually places somewhere in the middle of the © Through the Magic Door 13
    • pack with regard to measured outcomes.25 This may seem a pretty pedestrian performance, but it is actually a significant accomplishment given the diversity of the American student body: teachers having to address the disparate needs of children from a kaleidoscope of family circumstances.26 If the purpose of an education is to achieve, in the space of eighteen years, some agreed modicum of knowledge, skills, and values and to achieve this for the full population, then we have in the US a mixed report card. Despite having a substantially more heterogeneous population (with children starting from dramatically different points of learning readiness, and the attendant requirement to address different needs in different fashions) than most of our OECD peers, the US still manages to achieve a middle of the league ranking for elementary and high school education results but at a substantially higher cost per student than most countries.27 We do, however, then send a greater proportion of children on to higher education and our leading colleges and universities dominate the pack in virtually all global rankings.28 The nature and structure of our education system, one might conclude, does a decent job of achieving global excellence for a small portion of the population (graduates of the top 100 universities), better serves the higher educational needs of a large percentage of the population (the 30% that graduate from college) 29 but does a poor job of equipping those that graduate only from high-school and a disastrous job of serving those that fail to graduate high-school (30% of the US population still fails to graduate from high school on time or at all.)30 It is also worth noting, that in the huge variety of elementary and high school experiences in the US, there are very large numbers of truly exceptional private and public schools and even whole school systems, equal to and exceeding the best anywhere else. The corresponding truth is that there are also some truly abysmal schools and school systems performing far worse than might be experienced in most of the rest of the OECD. Given that results from existing school-based efforts have remained static, we believe it is time to re-examine what might be done differently. Specifically, whether there is anything that might be done in terms of family behaviors that would allow material improvements in educational outcomes and open more opportunities to all students and especially the least advantaged. The argument that we advance is that efforts to date have been overly focused on education as a product of efforts in the schooling system, while substantially ignoring the other two components of influence on a young person’s life, the family and the child’s network of friends. There are clearly some approaches towards reading that can be achieved through effective programs targeted at the social dimension of reading but that is beyond the scope of this paper. We are here focusing solely on those actions that can be taken in the context of the environment in which children spend the preponderance of their hours from birth to eighteen years of age; the family home environment. Children still spend the majority of their time in the home environment with family (65% as opposed to 20% in school and 15% in a social context) and this is so at all age levels from 6 to 17.31 © Through the Magic Door 14
    • Figure V - Sources of Influence on a Child by Time Spent 32 The proportion of time spent in these three environments does vary to a degree by age of child (e.g. an infant spends more time with family than a teenager) and by circumstance (home structure, urban vs. rural, income, etc.).33 No matter how you analyze it though, family is the incubator in which a child’s character and attributes are most materially formed and also determines the values and some of the personal behaviors that a child then brings to the school environment. While everyone acknowledges the fact that the family and home environment are critical contributors to the educational process, the overwhelming majority of research is actually invested in the relatively minor amount of time that is spent in the classroom or school in an effort to determine what actions teachers and the school system might take to improve results. The research situation is further exacerbated by the fact that most of the research being done is not only focused on public schools but is further focused substantially on the most distressed schools (serving the poorest students) and often on smaller groups within that (issues of bilingualism, ethnicity, and issues of individual circumstance). It is comprehensible that there is the desire to make things better and, therefore, to focus on the neediest cases. Unfortunately, there is consequently relatively little information available regarding what are the actual activities undertaken by parents and teachers that foster exceptional outcomes. Correspondingly, there is little research on exceptional readers and the characteristics that have allowed them to become so. © Through the Magic Door 15
    • It is our argument that the best academic outcomes are achieved when the values, goals and activities of the three main influencers, (family, school, friends) are in the greatest alignment with one another.34 The worst outcomes are achieved when the three components are not individually effective and/or when their respective goals are not aligned with one another. We believe the family component to be especially critical, not only because the greatest amount of time is spent in that environment, but because it is the source of influence with the longest duration and the greatest probability of consistency over time. In schools, children can expect, and usually do experience, significant variation in effectiveness and philosophical orientation among teachers and across elementary, middle and high schools. It is important to be clear that we are not proposing that families substitute for teachers or vice versa. We are simply drawing the distinction that schools can be very effective in teaching the skill of reading, but the degree to which that skilled is exercised is substantially a function of the family providing the inspiration and desire to read. Both schools and families are critical to reading and, to the degree that they reinforce one another, the child benefits exponentially.35 To the degree that both fail, the child is burdened with exceptional barriers to living a life filled with good choices. Schools do an adequate job of equipping children with the skill of reading such that, using common international definitions of literacy, 99% of the population is literate.36 It is the love of reading and the lifelong habit of reading which is often missing. It would seem unreasonable to look to schools to be able to build that love. It is our supposition that families are best positioned to help create core values, develop and enhance preferred personal attributes and to provide some core foundation of knowledge. Correspondingly, it would be anticipated that schools are best positioned for providing a range of skill development, experiences and a more extended knowledge base. While the health and results of the home-schooling movement indicates that much or all of an expected education experience can be fulfilled within a family environment, it is hard to see how the successful experience of a million or so highly motivated families can be extended to fifty million families with widely disparate circumstances. Much less would we expect that schools can substitute for healthy and effective families. We would argue that the past fifty years have been an exercise in trying to find the limits in the capacity of schools to make up for deficiencies in home environments and that we have learned that there are, indeed, very real limits. The success of schools in imparting knowledge, skills and values is circumscribed by the health of the family environments to which children return at 3pm every day. All three sources of educational influence (families, school, and social) are pertinent. Typically family plays a supportive role to school in creating a predisposition towards acquiring various skills and knowledge in the institutional setting. © Through the Magic Door 16
    • This fact explains why, despite spending some $631 billion a year on elementary and high school education, we still have no good answers for what methods of teaching are the most reliable in terms of producing the desired educational outcomes.37 We have, in the past seventy years, doubled the percentage of the national GDP that we spend on primary and high school education (from 2.3% to 4.6%). Because of real growth in the national economy, this means that we have nearly tripled the amount of real dollars spent per student with statistically insignificant improvements in outcomes.38 Surprisingly, we still don’t even have very good measures for determining exactly what outcomes we are, in fact, producing. From these facts, we conclude that schools are doing an adequate job (effective but not efficient) of teaching children to read but that simply having the skill to read is insufficient to life success. We also conclude that the nexus of focus for imparting the will to read is within the family. If the family is the source of greatest sustained influence based on exposure, duration, and consistency, what are the things that families can do to best prepare a child in order to take the greatest advantage of whatever opportunity is available for education through the school systems? It is our contention that the single thing that families can do that will have the greatest impact on sustained academic performance, is to foster a reading culture. This would include activities in the home that lay the groundwork for that first huge intellectual leap from incoherence to spoken language then from language to reading. Principally we are focused on those actions that also create the platform for sustained reading as a lifetime habit. The assumption is that if children can remain engaged in the intellectual activity of reading then they are predisposed to continue to further their broader intellectual activities in the school environment. It is correspondingly assumed that if reading is a fundamental aspect of the behavior and activities of the family, then it is likely that the child will not fall into the prevalent condition of alliteracy. Education is a cumulative process in which newly acquired skills create or allow the absorption of new knowledge which in turn allows the capacity to develop further skills.39 The foundation lies with the acquisition of language followed by the development of the skill of reading; the capacity to convert visual representations of speech from symbols into sounds, words, and ultimately the communication of ideas. As the foundation of reading is established, it is then further fueled by content, i.e. knowledge gleaned from reading gives context that puts ever more difficult texts within reach in a virtuous cycle.40 There are arguments regarding how much education should be focused upon filling children up with knowledge (content) versus the degree to which the purpose of education should be to teach them to think (process). Both content and process are critical and a deficit in one cripples the other.41 In regards to reading, the dichotomy between content and process is somewhat of a red herring. Enthusiastic reading leads to © Through the Magic Door 17
    • more and better reading which fosters both the acquisition of knowledge and the refinement of critical thinking. The nature of reading perforce requires a set of attributes and capabilities that are built or reinforced by reading but which are also foundations for other competencies such as numeracy, quantification, estimation, and probabilities. The goal of this paper is to equip parents with those recommended actions which field research demonstrates have a positive impact on the probability that a child will become a habitual and enthusiastic reader. While the statics (participation, volume and concentration) that have already been discussed all show a steady decline from infancy to graduation, it is important to acknowledge that some part of this is an inevitable consequence of children growing up, becoming interested in other activities and pursuits, and having to devote more of their time to other activities and responsibilities such as school. Elementary school children read more than middle school children who in turn read more than high schoolers who in turn read more than seniors in university.42 The volume of reading stabilizes after one’s mid-twenties and remains relatively steady until old age. The end goal is not necessarily to arrest the decline but to ensure that regardless of the decline, it does not translate into alliteracy and only intermittent reading. Among those that do read, the average graduating high school senior has only read six books voluntarily in the prior year. There are clear stages in a child’s development, when they are at particular risk of becoming non-participants in reading. Traditional crisis points include the transition from being read-to to independent reading; middle school years when increasing autonomy allows for greater participation in other activities that put demands on ones time, and finally the transition point from formal education to career. This pattern of disengagement from voluntary reading has been a steady plague over the decades. Figure VI - Risk Points for Abandoning Reading Can read but Distraction of activities, Distraction of not in the career and habit of school work, hobbies, early family reading. life. social life. TTMD Focus 5 10 15 20 25 Age in Years Developing Reader Young Adult Reader Independent Reader © Through the Magic Door 18
    • Chapter III: A Family Based Approach to Reading This section proposes an approach to support families in creating the circumstances that increase the prospects of a child’s becoming an enthusiastic and habitual reader. This approach, Growing a Reading Culture, is based on specific findings from the body of academic research performed over the past seventy years, along with input from current reading practitioners. It is framed to anticipate family circumstances (time constraints, income limits, skill issues, etc.) and also to be adaptable to multiple contexts. The approach of this paper is one grounded in naturalism rather than teleologistic philosophy. We are seeking to identify what actually does work rather than what ought to work. As part of our approach, we distinguish between the capacity to do something (for example having the capacity to read, i.e. being literate) and the actual practice of that thing (for example, actually demonstrating habitual and enthusiastic reading as measured by books read, hours spent reading, etc.). Our focus is on activities done within the family rather than on activities within the school for reasons outlined in Chapter II. Our approach is modular. The greatest impact is achieved when all activities are implemented but none are entirely contingent on the others. Individuals can easily achieve many elements of the plan with material measurable benefit and without having to do everything, should personal circumstances preclude that. Differences in any field of performance are normally, in the US, examined primarily through the lens of race. Subject to the limitations that afflict all such comparisons, it would not seem that there are very material differences in rates of participation in reading between the US and other OECD countries or between rates of enthusiastic reading and other countries. Interestingly, those other countries usually seek to explain differences through their own lenses; in the UK differences in reading enthusiasm are usually explained in terms of class or social economic status, in Israel in terms of ethnic culture, etc. The elements of reading culture identified in Growing a Reading Culture are not unique to a culture or class or race or ethnicity. They are the practices demonstrated to achieve the desired outcome of habitual and enthusiastic reading. Learning to read is a process of exceptions. For every rule there are gaping holes where that rule does not apply. Unlike medicine or agriculture, where a treatment may actually be isolated as a variable, and clear causal relations can be uncovered in controlled experiments, education is by nature a collection of many, variously interacting variables (Berliner, 2002; Bullock, 200; Maxwell, 2004; Olson, 2004). In education, there is not a simple causal line between teaching and learning. This is why Berliner © Through the Magic Door 19
    • (2002) describes educational research as, in fact, the “hardest science of all,” meaning that it is the most difficult to research. He cites three factors that bedevil researchers: (1) the dynamic and complex contexts in which teaching and learning operate; (2) the ubiquity of interactions in a classroom among a host of variables in the student, the teacher, and the materials (to name just three sites of variation); and (3) the shifts in the social and knowledge environment that can invalidate earlier research findings (e.g. behaviorist models of learning were replaced with constructivist models when new information about learning became available). Put another way, when experimental studies control out factors, the findings do not map well onto the messy, real-world classrooms of teachers who might want to apply the lessons of research to improve students learning.43 In other words, whether learning or teaching, you don’t know what you are going to start with; you don’t know how the pieces will interact; and you don’t know what causes differences day to day. Other than that, it is pretty straightforward.44 If you are a parent with a young child and you wish to know what are the actions you can undertake in the home environment that will increase the probability that your child will do well academically and will be afforded better life choices (and will make better choices), then there is little rigorous information available to guide your actions. It is to address that gap that we have conducted this research Growing a Reading Culture has been developed from a meta-analysis of academic research carried out to identify which practices have a statistically demonstrable positive impact on reading capabilities. The focus has been on identifying general practices that can be implemented in the home and are likely to have a long term impact. Specifically omitted are pedagogical techniques that are assumed to be the province of schools. This meta-analysis has been supplemented with the direct experience of a large number of non-academic individuals intimately involved in helping foster a love of and the habit of reading among children: teachers, librarians, reading coaches, literacy advocates, etc.45 The approach has been developed with several parameters in mind. • In order to be deployed extensively, it must be reasonably self-explanatory and comprehensible. • It must fit within the time constraints of over-scheduled families. • It must be able to be implemented with the least requirement of additional family resources possible. • It must address the real-world variety of American family circumstances. • It must be complimentary to and supportive of effective school literacy efforts. Following are the individual activities that have been identified from the literature and from the field as the activities that have the greatest impact on the probability that a child will become an effective, enthusiastic and habitual reader. The first five activities are far and away the most critical. © Through the Magic Door 20
    • 1. Talk a Lot46 2. Read to Them47 3. Be Seen Reading48 4. Give them the Power of Choice49 5. Have Books Everywhere50 6. Remember, Variety is the Spice of Life51 7. Don’t Rush52 8. Make it Personal53 9. Offer Quiet Places54 10. Establish Reading Routines55 11. Celebrate Books56 12. Indulge Serendipity 13. Discuss Ideas During Meals Growing a Reading Culture has detailed guidelines behind each of these activities (specific tactics for executing, ages to which they are most relevant, barriers most frequently encountered, etc.) and which can be used in a multitude of fashions to meet the needs of virtually any group of parents seeking to grow a reading culture in their family environment. Each of these thirteen categories is outlined in some detail below. Appendix D provides 90 specific tactical activities within these thirteen categories and gives a description, identifies at which ages the tactical activities are most relevant, provides the rationale for the activity and links each tactical activity back to the thirteen categories to which they are relevant. Appendix F provides a list of interventions to address commonly identified barriers to growing a reading culture and again links these interventions back to the thirteen categories to which they are most relevant. A Description and discussion of the thirteen most critical categories of behaviors and activities which are necessary to creating a reading culture and are likely to create the environment in which a child becomes a habitual and enthusiastic reader follows. Remember, the end goal is that children should be motivated to read. Help them persevere over the small bumps in the road. Be alert to needing to change tactics as individual circumstances dictate. Talk a Lot One of the single best predictors of a child’s reading capability on entering kindergarten is simply the volume of words they have heard in their life to that date. That volume is also a reliable predictor of their academic performance in later grades. The talking must be between a real human and the child (i.e. hearing words uni- directionally from radio or TV does not have the same effect.) © Through the Magic Door 21
    • The nature of the talking can include everything from mimicking sounds in the earliest years to inquisitorial dialogue (where’s the red dress?), to recitation of short poems, to singing, to structured story-telling, to jokes and riddles, etc. It usually is characterized by an open-endedness that invites call, response and continuation. The Hart and Risley studies indicated not only that there is a simple difference in volume of talking that occurs within families but also that there is also a difference in the nature of that talking. As discussed above, children from talkative families were exposed to three times the volume of talk as children from less communicative families. Interestingly, there was also a difference in the nature of that talk. In the communicative families, children were hearing 32 encouraging statements for every 5 prohibitory statements (per hour of talk). In the less communicative families this ratio was inverted with 11 prohibitory statements for every 5 encouragements.57 The more exposure children have to talking the more they become accustomed to the structure and rhythm of speech, to vocabulary, to conventions of storytelling, etc. This familiarity with facts, details and conventions of speech facilitates the journey into reading. The child already knows to look for those patterns of communication in the written word with which they are already familiar in the spoken word. Read to Them58 The second strongest predictor of a child’s reading capability and habits is the extent to which a child is routinely read to during their early years. It is never too early to start reading to a child though most parents find that it is not till the baby is about six months old that it becomes at all practical to do so on a routine basis. In their earliest years the parent is solely reading to a child but as the child grows and becomes more aware of text on pages, straight reading may be leavened with queries or pointing out recognizable words. Still later, as a child becomes more familiar with words and text, they may become eager to start sharing the reading of a book, often alternating sentences, paragraphs or pages. Most children will remain happy to be read to until they are at least eight and sometimes as late as eleven or twelve. At some point though, they become independent readers and the baton of reading is passed from parent to child. Reading with a child involves a certain level of intuitiveness. If a child is unfocused, make sure that they are comfortable in the first place. If they still are not focusing, try a different book. If a child is still disengaged, try reading at a different time. Start with short texts with clear contrast between words and background, large print, bright colors, © Through the Magic Door 22
    • etc. Try lots of styles of books: wordless books, books with few words and lots of pictures, illustrated poetry, heavily illustrated picture books, etc. Picking books for another person is a hit-and-miss exercise under the best of circumstances. When a child is very young and they do not yet know their own interests and predilections, it is all the more challenging. It is in these earliest years when a library is most especially helpful so that you can check out large volumes of different types of books in order find something that captures their imagination. Don’t belabor a book they are not interested in. With young children, focus on the pleasure of the reading session more than on the details of the reading. If a child’s attention begins to flag, feel free to skip sections or to skip to the end of the story. As your child builds the capacity to sit still and focus, slowly begin expanding their reading fare into longer and then more complex stories. One of the distinguishing features in these early years of reading is the tendency of children to occasionally become fixated on a single book. They will frequently desire that it be read and reread to them many times sequentially. While this can become tedious to a reader, to the child it is a matter of familiarizing themselves with a strange concept; they are locking in a knowledge and confidence in their knowledge of a book. Frustrating as this might be to a reading parent, it is an important stage that needs to be accommodated. One reason that sustained and voluminous reading is correlated to later accomplishments is probably owing to evidence regarding expertise development. There are indicative studies that expertise is contingent, in part, on sustained practice.59 Whether it is sports, music, chess, medicine, or mathematics, it appears that, regardless of starting native talent and proclivity, final achievement as among the most expert in the field is substantially correlated to amount of time spent practicing. This is sometimes referred to as the 10,000 hour rule based on early studies from the field of music, that to accomplish the highest levels of performance always requires at least 10,000 hours of practice.60 The picture seems to be more complicated than that and the benchmark number seems to vary by domain of expertise but all of these studies do seem to support that final capability is significantly contingent upon 1) motivation and 2) hours spent. This is relevant to Growing a Reading Culture because frequent reading to a child (as long as it is a positive experience) both reinforces the motivation to read and builds those hours of reading practice which likely create and reinforce a high degree of reading capability. Books Everywhere Access to books is the third most critical predictor of future reading habits. Children from low income homes with large numbers of books score better in reading than children from wealthy homes with few books. To some degree this is simply a function © Through the Magic Door 23
    • of numbers. A child surrounded on all sides by books has a much higher probability of finding one that appeals to him. The more likely they are to connect with books that they enjoy, the more likely they are to keep reading. Ideally, circumstances are such that large numbers of books can be purchased (every child ends up with favorites). If budgets do not permit that, then periodic stocking up at the library (whether public library or school library) can serve the same purpose. Reading materials beyond books are useful as well. Newspapers, magazines, comic books: all are grist to the mill. The important thing is for there to be plenty of books and for them to be easily accessible. Books in every room, books within physical reach of a child, etc. Give them the power of choice Giving children the power of choosing the books they read does not receive all that much attention in the press but it is one of the most consistently reported factors that shows up in the research as a predictor of children becoming enthusiastic and habitual readers. In a study of readers across 32 countries, trying to identify those factors most predictive of good reading capabilities, Postlethwaite and Ross found that free reading (where children pick the books they wish to read) at home was the second most predictive factor (out of 150 identified) of overall school effectiveness in reading.61 Where children have the greatest freedom of choosing what they wish to read, the better readers they become. As children find books which they enjoy, they are inclined to read more. As they read more, they become more familiar with the techniques and practices of reading. The more comfortable they become in reading, the wider the selection of books they can read and are willing to read. The wider the selection, the more likely they are to find yet further books that appeal to them. The sand in this virtuous cycle is simple; poor choice. From a parent’s point of view, are they likely to consistently choose books which we believe to be worthwhile in terms of values, knowledge, aesthetics, etc.? The answer is almost uniformly – No! Periodically they will choose books that are below their reading level. Occasionally they will choose books that deal with subjects for which we believe them to be unready or which we deem inappropriate. Quite often they will choose books that are of indubitably low aesthetic quality. True as all that might be, the link is demonstrably strong – children who have a wider range of choice read more habitually, read more enthusiastically, and read more effectively. It is also true that children that read more enthusiastically show a marked trend for reading up. While they may move back and forth between easier books and © Through the Magic Door 24
    • harder books, their overall trend line is upwards in terms of length, complexity and quality of book. One of the frequently identified culprits underlying the low level of boys reading is that schools (class room libraries as well as the school library) tend to do a relatively poor job of stocking the types of books boys tend to enjoy (action, plot driven, non-fiction, basic humor, etc.). The hypothesis, for which there is some supporting evidence, is that boys, while capable of reading, simply choose not to do so because they do not have access to the types of books they enjoy. The general guidelines for providing children choice are: • Make sure there are books a couple of years above and below their age reading level. • Make sure there is variety in format: board books, paperbacks, comic books, newspapers, magazines, hardbacks, audio. • Provide a range of genres at any given age level • Provide a range of quality such as (in terms of magazines) Reader’s Digest, Time, and The Economist. • Ensure that there are some likely series books • Make sure there is something available from the fringes. While parents may have little control over the quality of books to which children are exposed to by their friends and in the classroom, you have entire control within the home. The basic books to which they have access in the house are ultimately up to you and while you may give them a range of choice, you determine what are the final boundaries. It is indisputably a difficult balancing act to keep enticing them with books in which they are interested while staying within the parameters of appropriate values, taste, etc.; particularly when they are exposed to very heterogeneous ranges at school and through their friends. The danger to be averted is of driving them away from reading by being too restrictive of what they read. See Choosing Books for Your Children on SlideShare for an expanded discussion on this challenging activity. Be seen reading One of the most frequently overlooked actions which has a very high impact on whether children become enthusiastic and habitual readers is the simple issue of whether they see adults in their life reading. Field studies in the home and the classroom consistently demonstrate that children read more when they see adults (teachers or parents) reading. We can say reading is important all we want but if our own actions do not match our words, children quickly draw the obvious conclusion – what is important is what actually gets done. © Through the Magic Door 25
    • The normal methods of letting children see that reading is important to you are: • Have some routine of reading (the newspaper, magazines or a book before leaving for work or when returning in the evening). • Having a place where you can be seen reading; a favorite chair, in bed, etc. • Physical evidence of reading: books by the bedside, books in the briefcase, books in the house, books in your car. Children wish to be adults long before they understand what that entails. They want to be you – powerful, in control, knowledgeable. They want to do what you do – pay for things, drive, handle dangerous equipment, and yes, read. If you are seen reading by them, they are likely to be readers themselves. Variety is the spice of life Closely related to Give Them the Power of Choice is Variety. Children don’t know what they don’t know. They are dependent on you introducing them to the world of the spoken and written word. It is tempting to show them just what we loved, our favorite books, but every child comes with their own unique proclivities and life circumstances. It may have been the Hardy Boys for you but it is Louis L’Armour for them. You may have loved poetry, they love non-fiction. You may have cut your teeth on Treasure Island they may take to Pippi Longstocking. While we can and should seek to steer them through the wild waters of reading, it is important for them to have the variety that will let them make their own path. Variety comes in any number of categories; we propose six forms: existential form, material form, purpose, genre, style and issues. Existential form – The spoken word in all its varieties; monologue, dialogue, singing, story-telling, reading out loud, etc. The written word also has its manifold forms, the obvious ones being newspapers, magazines, comic books, manga, big books, small books, trick books, instruction manuals, reference books, etc. Where do you find stories written? Even paintings can be viewed as a story captured and waiting to be “read”. Material form – Little children like books they can easily handle, i.e. smaller books. They tend to like bright colors and shorter, clear printed texts. Older children tend to prefer books that are easy to carry around. Sometimes they prefer to have books that are obvious, such as large hardbacks (they want to be seen by their peers as reading a particular book). In terms of material form, you have abridged and non-abridged books, paperbacks, hard backs, board books, and audio books. We are now on the cusp of having electronic books. An additional consideration is the extent and nature of illustration in the book. © Through the Magic Door 26
    • Purpose – Why is your child wanting to read a particular story or why do you want them to read a particular story? Some of the considerations include: Literary esthetics, entertainment, social appeal, relevance, durability, values, awareness, knowledge, escape, and solace. Each of these categories warrants a discussion. Suffice to say that there are many legitimate motivations for reading and most of them have relevance at some point in a particular person’s reading career. The important thing is for a child to be aware of the range of choices and to have good titles accessible at the time they become interested. Genre – Some of the most commonly identified genres are adventure, art books, biographies, fairy tales, fantasy, historical fiction, history, humor, literary fiction, mysteries, myths and legends, plays, poetry, romances, scary stories, science, science fiction, and series books. Young children tend to gravitate towards poetry, myths and legends, and fairy tales. Independent readers tend towards adventure, series books, biographies, humor, scary stories, historical fiction, fantasy, romances, and science fiction. Older readers tend to prefer art books, mysteries, history, fantasy, science, and science fiction. Issues – Some of the considerations here include how realistic is the writing, to what degree is your child likely to identify with the protagonist and their circumstances, to what extent does the book conform to your expected world view (multi-culturalism, environmentalism, etc.), to what degree is the story “relevant”, to what degree does the book provide a foundation of residual critical cultural knowledge, and to what degree does the story or book reflect values which you might wish your child to emulate. Style – Every author and every book has some distinct style usually shaped by writing style, plot, use of language, character development, descriptive capabilities, etc. Every child and person develops a propensity towards some set of writing styles. Some prefer plot over character development, others prefer language use to description. As children move from being read to, to becoming independent readers, you will be aware of their preferences. They frequently will take to a particular author or to a particular series. Their comfort with the familiar helps build their reading confidence. All of these are considerations in picking out which books your child might like now as well as which books they are likely to grow into. Reading materials come in all shapes, sizes and packages. Introduce children to language with talking, singing, poetry. Show them advertisements, help them read cooking instructions, show them billboards, have newspapers around the house, magazines, books, comics, etc. Find every wedge for them to discover the magic of the written word. Show them an old family bible with their grandparent’s handwriting. Their great- grandfather’s service citations on the wall tell a story. Their grandmother’s letters to her daughter in college are a written link backwards into time. © Through the Magic Door 27
    • All these are examples of the magic of the written word in the lives of children. They are figuring things out and they can quickly figure out that words, spoken and written, are one of the most important keys they will ever carry. The more examples of this there are, the quicker they figure it out. Don’t rush This is an especially critical issue, particularly in America where individual attainment and the competitive instinct are so strong. Finnish school children, consistently among the best readers in international rankings, do not begin to receive formal instruction in reading until they are seven years old. There is a strong inclination to associate intelligence with early reading and therefore to try and hurry the process along. This overlooks the very broad range of progression demonstrated by children. There is a very loose correlation between early reading and IQ but it is weak and not especially predictive. A large percentage of children who turn out to be gifted are not early readers and some children who are early readers do not turn out to be gifted as traditionally measured by IQ.62 Effective reading is far more closely related to the activities laid out here in Growing a Reading Culture, particularly the first five factors (talking, reading to them, being seen to read, books everywhere, and giving them choice) than to either IQ or early reading. The risk of a child becoming disaffected with reading by pushing them before they are developmentally capable of absorbing reading or of pressing them to read what they are unwilling or unable to read is far greater than any potential benefit to be gained from them reading six months or a year earlier than they might at their own pace. Make it personal As mentioned earlier, the motivation to read is a paramount issue in ensuring that our children do not fall off the reading wagon. This is part of the motivation of making reading a fun and interesting adventure rather than an onerous task. Another aspect of reading is not only the pleasure we derive from it but also the pleasure with which we associate it. A child who has been held close in the crook of an arm while hearing their parent’s voice reading a story, who has drifted to sleep on the sonorous poem read by their parent, who has giggled and laughed through a funny story while snuggled up close, has a foundation of security, intimacy and pleasure locked into the concept of reading which will forever predispose them to the act of reading. There is another aspect to making it personal beyond the routine of reading. As your child grows and becomes capable of reading themselves, the back and forth of discussing words, of critiquing books, of coaching them on meaning, of discussing pictures, © Through the Magic Door 28
    • characters and storylines all build up a network of positive associations that link the act or reading to a primal sense of well being. Later yet, when your child is an independent reader, and as a young teenager there is a final tie of respect that can be built. Asking to read some of their books that look good, asking their opinion of a story, offering a book you have read that is clearly an adult book speaks of a trust and confidence that again lays a foundation in their psyche that will support their own reading life. Reading is a highly personal activity. There is no one that will ever know your child as well as you do. There are teachers and librarians that will make good and great suggestions as to what your child might like based on years of knowing many children but you have a lifetime of knowing that one child. Your recommendations will always have a place. Quiet places It is not a necessary requirement but field studies have shown that children, both at home and at school, are inclined to read more when they have a comfortable quiet place to read. There are some children that can flop down and lose themselves in a book no matter what chaos abounds around them but others, particularly those that are still acquiring their reading legs, can benefit from having a quiet place to which they can retire and read with few distractions. Reading routines Children are pattern seeking machines. They want to know what the deal is, what are the limits, what are the rules, what are the consequences. This curiosity and attempt to build structure is one of the distinct aspects of childhood that can make it both such a joy and frustration for a parent. The most common reading routine is that of being read to (for younger children) at bedtime or (for older children) being allowed to read themselves at bedtime. Other routines include an infinite range of activities such as: • Reading in the car while waiting to pick up siblings from school • When at dinner, talking about books that have been read • Having a bag of books always accessible for reading • Pleasurable reading as a consequence (when a child has hurt a finger, when a child is fretful, when a child is angry), etc. A reading routine is any positive reading action that a child can anticipate based on time or activity. © Through the Magic Door 29
    • Celebrate books In a study of readers across 32 countries, trying to identify those factors most predictive of good reading capabilities, Postlethwaite and Ross found that parental support at home was the most predictive factor of overall school effectiveness in reading.63 Across the world, students who have a positive view of reading are better readers than their peers.64 Celebrating books is akin to the action Be Seen Reading but entails a broader range of activities than simply being seen reading. It would include such activities as requesting books for Christmas or birthday, looking forward to a favorite author’s new release, being eager to discuss a meaningful book just completed, being excited about some activity at the local library. It might include joyful things such as playing games such as Charades based on books, or slipping a written joke into your child’s lunchbox, e-mailing them articles or reviews, or treasuring a book given by someone important to you. As a child see’s you valuing books and reading, so will they likely value books and reading themselves. Indulge serendipity The research is mixed on this point but seems indicative. Most children have an “Aha” moment, like Helen Keller with her hands under the water pump, in which the meaning and value and attractiveness of books suddenly becomes apparent to them. Usually about 50% of children who are enthusiastic readers are able to identify a single book that was a turning point for them. It is not necessarily a book that is their favorite read but one that was in some way most significant to them. It was the right book at the right moment. Often times it entails a character with whom they identify but it also includes books that were especially visually affective or a book that had special meaning because of the circumstances under which it was read or from whom it was received. It is very difficult to engineer these events: they happen when they happen. The valuable thing is to recognize that it has happened and to take advantage of the event. If it is a series, get the rest of them. If it is an author with other titles, get them. If they are books which you are not wild about, short of them being blatantly damaging, get more. Whether they have taken a shine to comic books or cartoons or cookie-cutter adventures – get more of them. Whatever has sparked the interest, the important response is to fan the flame. Once the habit of reading is formed and their confidence is established then you can focus more on directing where their reading ought to go but that © Through the Magic Door 30
    • first spark can be a critical moment as to whether a child becomes a habitual reader or not. Meals with discussions The evidentiary basis for this proposition is also fragmented. There are no studies which correlate reading results with shared meals. However, there are many studies that correlate a routine of shared meals with better physical health, reduced obesity, greater family stability, more conversation, improved social skills, etc. These factors are in turn, directly correlated with the increased probability of the reading habit and reading enthusiasm. © Through the Magic Door 31
    • Chapter IV: Assumptions, Measurements, and Data Reliability It is accepted as demonstrated fact (though we cite the research that underpins this assumption) that enthusiastic and habitual reading is highly correlated not only with academic success but also with wider markers of what are considered to be desirable life outcomes: income, social status, employment, health, familial integrity, civic involvement, etc. Enthusiastic, habitual readers are characterized by high productivity in a wide range of endeavors, not necessarily just as measured by education and income. In this paper we make the assumption that all parents are desirous that their children should be capable by the time they graduate from high school of making considered decisions and be equipped to effectively pursue activities based on those decisions that allow them to achieve desirable life outcomes. As explained in Appendix B, we are working with a model that assumes that a person’s capacity to effectively pursue those activities are predicated upon Will, Values, Knowledge, Experience, History, Resources, and awareness of Norms of Behavior. In Appendix C we outline how and why habitual and enthusiastic reading is believed to bolster critical capacities related to Will, Values, Knowledge, Experience, History, Resources, and awareness of Norms of Behavior. We recognize that there is a very wide range of starting points and of outcomes. Siblings raised within the same positive reading culture will still demonstrate variable outcomes based on personal circumstances and proclivities. The range of enthusiasm (number of books read or hours spent reading) may vary significantly within a sibling group but it will be higher than otherwise. Given the variability of individuals, no approach can guarantee measured outcomes for every individual within a population but it should improve the probability of those outcomes and certainly must be able to demonstrate measured improvement for the average of all participants. As described in Chapter 2, t is our belief that there is a natural but permeable intersection between the capacities of schools and the capacities of families. Specifically, schools are better equipped to impart the skill of reading than might necessarily be the case for the average family. Correspondingly, families are better equipped to impart the will to read than the average school. It is recognized that this is not uniformly the case but we believe it represents an adequate model of reality. We therefore treat the onus of providing the skills of reading as being upon schools and the onus for creating the will to read as being within families. © Through the Magic Door 32
    • Figure VII - Different Ways to Assess the Reading Problem As Figure VII indicates, the degree to which there is considered to be a problem with reading is substantially determined by the frame of reference and terms used. If we are speaking of simple illiteracy, the literal incapacity to read, then the problem, while grave to the individuals affected, is a relatively small one. Most studies indicate that using a strict definition of illiteracy yields a figure of approximately 5% of the population as being illiterate (using the common international definition, of having completed education to at least the 5th grade level, then the US , as with most OECD countries, has a 1% or less illiteracy rate). Even using the softer term of functional illiteracy by which people are acknowledged to have decoding skills but find it challenging to interpret more than basic texts, you are usually not speaking of more than 10% of the population. Very much an issue for the individuals involved, but even being generous with the numbers, not a societally debilitating one. The most alarming claims for the decline in book reading are usually tied to a much narrower definition of reading, sometimes the focus being on voluntary literary reading (literary fiction, poetry, plays) versus all other types of books or sometimes focusing on “serious reading” (literary reading plus non-fiction) versus popular reading such as newspapers, magazines, romances, cookbooks, westerns, mysteries, etc. These alarming reports are not really about reading rates per se but rather are judgments regarding the value of different types of texts. It is our assumption that the core issue is participation and concentration. Regardless of what types of texts people are reading at a given point © Through the Magic Door 33
    • in their reading evolution, as long as they are reading habitually and enthusiastically, they are likely to 1) become increasingly fluent and effective readers, and 2) migrate to more challenging texts as their reading fluency and effectiveness increases. We believe that the issue confronting the US at this point in time is one of will rather than skill. Changes in teaching methods and substantial increases in funding for primary and secondary education in the past five decades have not materially changed reading scores or measures of reading participation, enthusiasm or concentration. Targeted intervention programs for addressing inequalities in early environmental circumstances such as Head Start, typically show little impact beyond the immediate year. While it is conceivable that further funding growth or changes in pedagogy might make a difference, there is no historical track record that supports that conclusion and it would seem unlikely. We conclude therefore that any improvements in reading participation and enthusiasm have to be sought in the realm of will (the family culture) rather than in skill (school effectiveness). Therefore, within the context of the US, we believe that reading outcomes are more determined by cultural elements within the family than by circumstances of schools or on income and other material factors. We recognize that this is not uniformly the case at the level of the individual but do believe that the majority of children live in financial circumstances that permit reading to be a much greater activity than it currently is, attend schools that are capable of imparting the skills of reading (and at some schools the will to read), and live in environments where books are reasonably accessible (public libraries as distinguished from school libraries). There are two additional assumptions for which there is only rather mixed evidence and therefore, as commonsensical as they might seem, are not embedded in the design of Growing a Reading Culture. If these assumptions are valid, it adds to the program but their potential invalidity does not detract from it. While it seems to make good sense that TV watching, video games and computer time would be activities that displace and reduce the amount of time spent reading, this does not seem to be the case if only examined by the numbers. Enthusiastic readers seem to have reasonably similar TV watching, video game playing and computer habits as the general population. Why this should be so is not immediately clear. It has been a steady presumption for forty years or more that TV watching must be deleterious to reading but there is no solid evidence to support that despite the expectation and the reasonably proactive search to find such a link. It is true that there is a negative link among small percentage that are the most extreme TV viewers but not among the run-of-the-mill viewers. In fact, a number of studies indicate that those that are enthusiastic book readers are also enthusiastic consumers of various forms of communication (TV, Internet, magazines, newspapers, etc.).65 One reason that there appears to be a weak linkage between reading and TV watching might be that the last fifty years have seen an increasing volume of leisure time. With that increased leisure time, it is possible for both TV viewing and © Through the Magic Door 34
    • reading time to increase without the one displacing the other. On the other hand, it is also true that annual household expenditures on books are down approximately 15% whereas expenditures on various other forms of entertainment (admissions, audio-visual equipment and services, etc.) are up 100-300% over the past quarter century.66 Contrary to the popular stereotype of enthusiastic readers being reclusive, anti-social misanthropes, time usage studies of children do not throw up much evidence that enthusiastic readers spend materially less time on the normal range of activities compared to other children. They spend a few minutes less here and there but there is no major discordance from the norm. In addition, various studies tend to show, most strongly among adults but also among children, that enthusiastic readers are also enthusiastically engaged with their community.67 Finally, while it might be assumed that higher IQs are associated with habitual and enthusiastic reading, it is actually more complicated than it appears at first sight. Higher IQs are definitely well correlated with higher reading scores in terms of comprehension, interpretation, etc. There is also a correlation, though weaker, between high IQ and habitual and enthusiastic reading. In fact, several of the core behaviors identified in Growing a Reading Culture, such as Talk a Lot, Read to Them, and Books Everywhere, are more highly correlated to a child becoming a habitual and enthusiastic reader than is IQ. The net is that while children with a high IQ may be predisposed to becoming habitual and enthusiastic readers, there is nothing preordained about it and many do not. Likewise, children from within the normal deviation of standard IQ are fully capable of, and do, become enthusiastic and habitual readers. We have attempted to make this study as fact based as possible. All our recommendations are backed by sourcing to original studies and data from the government, from research institutions, data and research from commercial enterprises and from our own original research. In addition, we have collected recommendations, suggestions, and opinions from many individuals active in fields related to reading such as parents, librarians, teachers, reading coaches, etc. We have in general sought to use studies with large population sets (participants in the thousands) versus small studies (participants in the dozens); studies that are longitudinal in nature rather than a snapshot in time; studies that use observed data rather than self- reported data, and studies that use hard measures rather than narrative descriptions. There are exceptions. One example of such an exception would be the Hart & Risley studies which cover a small population base but are notably comprehensive in data volume and robustness. Research conducted in the field of reading, (and that research goes back seventy years and more), has been voluminous but often as capable of clouding the picture as clarifying it. There are a number of reasons for this lack of data consistency and clarity. Reading is studied from numerous vantage points including psychology, sociology, history, education, linguistics, demography, literature, etc. Each of these disciplines are asking slightly different questions and therefore, though they are dealing with the same subject, © Through the Magic Door 35
    • frequently use inconsistent measures and definitions which makes it very challenging to aggregate knowledge across the fields. Because reading is also a business in which corporations have a financial interest, a cause in which charities and foundations have a donor interest, and a policy area in which government has an interest, most sponsored studies also are geared towards certain pre-existing interests or assumptions; hence the repeated alarm bells over time. What we have attempted to do is identify key activities that can be reliably demonstrated to cause enthusiastic and habitual reading. Proving statistical causation in the social sciences is notoriously difficult and therefore, failing that, we have, with caveats, relied on correlations, i.e. Activity X is associated with Reading Result Y, as long as there is a logical causative consistency between the action and the result. There is also a propensity to seek a silver bullet, a single cause that will solve “the reading problem.” We believe that the solution is relatively straight-forward but that there is no single silver bullet. Commonly prescribed silver bullets include: Free Voluntary Reading in schools, parental evening reading, phonics, whole language, Head Start, improved school funding, improved teacher training, better access to books, etc. In special circumstances, most of these can show improvements in the short term. Virtually all of them are incapable in isolation of showing sustained improvement over the long term. Much research focuses on the effectiveness of individual bullets and rarely on a comprehensive and holistic perspective on what factors help create habitual and enthusiastic readers. In an ideal world, there would be a study that would have looked at families that are measurably “reading” families and would have identified those activities and behaviors common among them that caused or increased the probability of children being enthusiastic and habitual readers. Regrettably, no such study appears to ever have been undertaken. Instead we have had to piece together the results from many different studies, from many different parts of the country, from studies conducted at different points in time over the past forty years in order to arrive at a reasonably complete picture of what an effective reading family looks like and the behaviors and activities they undertake that create a reading culture. There has been sufficient data of a quality in which we are confident to allow us to identify five key activities that have a robust causative relationship to enthusiastic and habitual reading. These are 1) Talking a lot, 2) Reading to children, 3) Having many books easily available, 4) Giving children choices in their reading, and 5) Parents being seen to read. There are eight additional sets of activities where there is correlative evidence or suggestive evidence (few studies but strong results). These additional activities which appear contributive to a reading culture are 6) Provide variety in reading, 7) Don’t make reading a task to be rushed through, 8) Make reading personal, 9) Provide quiet places for reading, 10) Establish reading routines, 11) Celebrate books, 12) Create opportunities for chance reading, and 13) Establish a routine of talking at shared meals. All of these activities are described in more detail in Chapter 3 and Appendix D. © Through the Magic Door 36
    • A central issue in developing the will to read is that of motivation. In American culture, this is broadly, and we think correctly, interpreted as meaning that it is important for reading to be enjoyable for children. The more they enjoy reading, the more they will read. While this is probably broadly true in most instances in America, it is important to acknowledge that there are other equally important motivations that may be more important in other national cultures or within some families within the US. For example, in families with strong hierarchies, reading in order to please parents may be just as effective a source of motivation as reading for pleasure. In other circumstances, there might be a social dimension to motivate reading; “I want to read because my friends are reading.” Whatever the source of motivation might be; pleasure, duty, social affirmation, one of the core tasks as a parent in growing a reading culture is to create the motivation to read. It is acknowledged that there is an inferred family structure underpinning many of the reading recommendations contained within Growing a Reading Culture. This is to some extent unavoidable given the source data but it also reflects the core approach of this research: look for what works. It is our belief that even families that do not share all the inferred attributes (two parents, average income, urban/suburban residence, at least one parent with some latitude of managing personal time, etc.) will still be able to adopt a portion of the behaviors and activities that foster a reading culture. The issue of barriers to a reading culture are addressed in Appendix F. Most of the research available lacks the type of data which would most easily support our goal of identifying best reading practices. In order to measure reading enthusiasm and habit, for example, one would ideally measure number of hours spent reading and frequency of reading. This data is simply not available to any meaningful degree and so we use number of books read as a proxy while recognizing the limitations of that measure (War and Peace is not equivalent to Lassie Come Home which is not equivalent to Mike Mulligan). Listed below are some of the fundamental questions for which one would expect to have readily available data but which does not in fact exist. Given the absence of any data or the spottiness or inconsistency of data on most these questions, we have frequently had to rely on inferences or reverse calculations to come up with proxy answers. • How many books are read per year? • How many books are in the average household? • How many books are checked out from the library per family? • How many hours are spent being read-to each week? Over how many sessions? • How many hours are spent in independent reading? • How many hours do parents spend reading for themselves? • How accessible are books in the home? • How many people are involved in reading-to children within a family? • What role do family members and family friends play in reading? • What other materials are incorporated in reading (magazines, newspapers, etc.)? • How many hours of conversation is the child exposed to each week? © Through the Magic Door 37
    • • Are there special physical accommodations for reading (quiet times, quiet rooms, reading lamps, etc.)? • Are there any patterns of reading associated with book type (hardback versus paperback)? Reading concentration is a much more difficult number to track. Analysis of raw data from a variety of sources appears to indicate that in the US, 10% of the population is responsible for approximately 80% of books read (purchased or circulated from libraries). It is worth noting that this is a significantly greater concentration of readership than, for example, income where the top 10% of income earners are garnering 50% of total national income.68 It is likely, though unproven, that these two factors are related.69 A habitual reader is one who consistently chooses to read books over time and frequently sets a personal priority on reading above other optional discretionary activities. They may or may not choose to read large numbers of books but they choose to read on a routine basis. An enthusiastic reader is one characterized by the volume of reading that they do. Terms used in this paper: Participation Rate Definition: The degree to which an individual chooses to read books (of any sort) on an elective basis rather than being required to read books associated with their studies or required as part of their work. Measure: At least one book read electively within the past year. Desired Outcome: 100% participation, i.e. everyone elects to read at least one book per year. Current Performance: 50% of the population reads no books electively in a given year. Habitual Reading Definition: The degree to which there is predictability in the routine of reading with some minimum outcome independent of the individual’s reading skills and volume. Measure: Elective book reading occurring on a monthly basis. Desired Outcome: 100% demonstrating habitual reading. Current Performance: An estimated 30% of the population are habitual readers. Enthusiastic Reading Definition: The volume of reading demonstrated. Measure: Number of hours spent reading or number of books read. Desired Outcome: At the high school level and above, at least 2.0 books read per month. © Through the Magic Door 38
    • Current Performance: 0.4 books read per month. Concentration Definition: The degree to which the volume of reading is concentrated among quartiles or deciles of readers. Measure: Percent of books read by the top 10% of readers. Desired Outcome: 20% (arbitrarily chosen). Current Performance: 80% © Through the Magic Door 39
    • APPENDIX A: Recognizing a Reading Culture - Example What does it mean to grow a reading culture? By what means would one recognize such a thing? One might list a series of attributes – a first choice of reading over other forms of entertainment (Roald Dahl – “So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray,/Go throw your TV set away,/And in its place you can install,/A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”), how one chooses to spend one’s money (Erasmus – “When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes”), or perhaps the degree of indispensability of reading (Gibbon – “My early and invincible love of reading I would not exchange for all the riches of India”). One might identify it by one’s attitude towards books: Holbrook Jackson - “Read as you taste fruit or savor wine, or enjoy friendship, love or life”; Charles Lamb - “I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not walking, I am reading. I cannot sit and think; books think for me.”; Anthony Trollope - “Book love... is your pass to the greatest, the purest, and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for His creatures.”; Arnold Lobel -“Books to the ceiling,/Books to the sky./My pile of books /Are a mile high./How I love them!/How I need them!/I'll have a long beard/By the time I read them.”, etc. One might give a measure of a reading culture with metrics – number of hours spent reading, number of books read, number of books in the household, amount of money spent on books, number of trips to the library, etc. All of these are aspects of the same phenomena. We are the six blind sages of Indostan reaching out to touch the reading elephant. Like pornography, perhaps, a reading culture does not lend itself to a simple metric or attribute or attitude but we know it when we see it. What follows is an attempt to describe what a reading culture might look like and feel like in the most optimum of circumstances. A reading culture in a stable familial environment with two parents, prosperous enough to not be materially constrained in book acquisition; with one or both parents with sufficient time flexibility to accommodate trips to the library, talking and reading frequently; with family members and friends that share a love of books; access to libraries and bookstores; a school environment where teachers and librarians are effective and support a love of reading, etc. While the number of families for whom all these Elysian conditions hold true is probably miniscule, it does provide a framework from which then to identify how to address the circumstances that fall short of one or more of these desirable conditions. Where objective data is available or can be extrapolated, we have incorporated that into the description as well. © Through the Magic Door 40
    • The Jones are a reading family. They always have been and always will be. You can tell as soon as you walk into their home by just looking about. There are books everywhere. Not obtrusive but it seems like almost every room has at least some books in it. It isn’t just the presence of books that give you the feeling of being in a reading family. It is the fact that books are an ever present companion in their conversation and in their lives. Grandmother Jones grew up on a farm but when she was twenty she moved into town where she became a grade school teacher for forty years. She always has stories to tell about how critical reading and education are to a successful life. “You need to learn to read well if you are going to get ahead.” “You need to be a good reader if you are going to go to college, you know.” As the grandchildren grew up, these admonishments became a little bit of a standing joke but they loved their grandmother and they knew she loved books in many ways other than her counsel to read more. She lived those stories by always having books about her apartment which was both tidy and messy at the same time. All the furniture was neatly placed in proper right angles to the wall and each other. The throw rugs were tightly folded in their place, the cushions on the sofa stood to attention between the arm and the back. While the frame of the apartment was tidy, it was also adorned, in an almost extravagant manner, with books. No matter where you sat, there were always at least a couple of books and magazines within reach. Old favorite children’s books, books Grandma was reading, Reader’s Digest, Time, the local paper; they all softened the edges of the room. More or less tidy stacks of books still in the process of being read could be found anywhere in any room. But it wasn’t just the presence of books in her apartment that impressed Grandmother Jones’s grandchildren. When they visited, inevitably, at some point, they would end up on the sofa together, snuggled up with Grandma, having had some freshly baked cookies and some milk. Grandma would read a story to her grandchildren and usually there would be a story around the story. “No Fighting, No Biting, oh, Mr. Sedgewaw, the banker, he used to love that story when he was in first grade. Every day he would ask that we read it at nap time. It’s hard to imagine him now, all stout and proper in the bank, but he used to love pretending to be one of the naughty little alligators.” But the story the grandkids loved the best was when Grandma would gingerly pull down a collection of children’s tales. It was a very well worn book, really actually kind of battered. Tenderly, she would turn to a favorite tale with its old style illustrations fading now on the yellowing pages and begin one more time to read that story. Not always but occasionally, when she reached the end, if the children were still awake, she would mention, “This is a really special book for me, I hope one of you will look after it when I am gone.” “Why, Grandma? Why is it special?” even though they knew the answer. “Well, you know I grew up on a farm. We were a big family but those could be hard times back then. We never had enough money, we never could count on the weather, we © Through the Magic Door 41
    • just didn’t have much except each other. When I was about six or seven, I was just beginning to read. We had had a bad year. The crop was pretty good but prices had collapsed, one of the plow horses went lame and Pa barely got enough cash to keep going. It was tough. No new clothes, everything had to be mended several times over. By the time a shirt made it from the oldest child to the youngest, it was practically patches with a bit of shirt.” “We knew not to expect anything for Christmas but knowing it doesn’t make it easy. My oldest brother Luke was seventeen and already living a couple of miles away working as a hired hand on another farm. He always spoiled me as I was coming up. There was enough age difference between us that I wasn’t a pesky little sister. More like a favorite pet. Anyway, we didn’t see him much. He was worked hard. But he did get back to help Pa with big jobs or repairs; he was so good with his hands, he could fix anything.” “Anyway that year, when I was seven, he had seen how much I loved to read. But we didn’t have anything to read in the house. Occasionally we’d get some vegetables or meat wrapped in newspaper and I would practice reading that.” “Luke came home for Christmas that year. He had made or carved a little something for each of us. My gift though was bigger, in a brown paper bag. When I opened it up I found this beautiful book. I had never owned a book before much less had one with such beautiful pictures. I don’t know how he ever scraped together the money to get this or even where he bought it. But this is the book from which I learned to love reading and now I am still reading it to you all these years later.” The grandkids loved this story and held the book in special awe. They were not always as gentle with their own books as they ought to have been but no museum curio was ever handled with greater reverence than when they held Grandma’s special book. It was only later that they learned one of those pieces of family knowledge that are always in the background but are rarely directly acknowledged. That was the last Christmas. Grandma’s favorite brother, Luke volunteered that year and went off to fight in the South Pacific. He did not come back. The Jones house is a tidy little place. Not too big not too small. Dad is an accountant in town and Mom used to be a nurse but has been staying at home with the kids. She recently started back to work part time after several years and is working as a receptionist at a doctor’s office twenty hours a week. Dad works downtown but does have to travel on business fairly frequently. Both of them grew up in a reading family and both of them enjoy relaxing with books. Dad likes mysteries and Mom prefers historical fiction but they’ll both try anything. Mom belongs to a book club that meets once a month. There are not a huge number of books in the house, it’s not like Grandma’s apartment, but there are more books than most homes. Dad has a couple of shelves of his mysteries and other books that he enjoys. When he travels on business there is always a book from © Through the Magic Door 42
    • the shelf that goes into his briefcase for rereading. Almost inevitably, there is a new one that comes back from the trip that he has picked up at some airport or hotel concession stand. Aside from mysteries, he also particularly enjoys Clive Cussler and oddly enough, P.G. Wodehouse. Mom also has a shelf of books in the book case in the living room, historical romances mostly but also a variety of other books from her book club and ones friends have recommended she read. The rest of the shelves are occupied by a variety of books. A handful of coffee table books which Mom enjoys leafing through at the end of a fraught day, a collection of best loved poems, a dictionary, a thesaurus, an atlas, a beautiful gilt edged family bible that has each of the children’s names in it, a couple of almanacs, several old (tattered, highlighted and marked-up) college literature books and collections (Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Conrad and the like). There are the beginnings of several Time-Life series but none that are complete. There are several art books, illustrated archaeology books, books about the whaling industry, books about WWII planes and other miscellany, representing passing phases of interest over the past thirty years on the part of Mom or Dad. There are a dozen or so photo albums that are pulled down on a rainy day and old family stories recounted once again. Finally, there are a wedge of cook books that have overflowed from the kitchen and gardening books that are reviewed for ideas of what to do; ideas that hardly ever get done. Altogether there are about 150 books on five bookshelves in the living room. There are none in the dining room. That is where Mom likes to keep the best china and other pretty things. There’s a bookshelf in the kitchen where Mom keeps all her cookbooks and there are usually one or two open on the counters for something she is preparing or planning to do. The Jones’ have three children. Leira, their oldest daughter is fourteen and a freshman in High School. Next in line is Frank who is eleven and in sixth grade, in Middle School. Richie is eight and in third grade. They all get along pretty well. Leira and Frank are particularly close and both of them treat Richie as their fun project. All three are proficient readers. Leira and Frank read a lot whereas Richie, who is much more sporty and outdoorsy, enjoys a good book but just doesn’t get through as many as his older brother and sister. He has other calls on his time. Leira has her own room and a bookcase of all her favorite books but a good portion of her books live on the floor or in stacks near her bed. She has reached the age where she no longer wants her parents to read to her at bedtime. She has a bedside lamp that burns bright every night. Her lights-out is supposed to be at 9:30pm but she keeps pressing the boundaries and Mom and Dad have taken to checking for the light under the door frame. They don’t fuss at her, just remind her “Find a good stopping place and get to sleep. You’ll be tired in the morning.” Frank and Richie share a room more or less amicably. They have one tall book case. Frank has the top three shelves and Richie has the bottom three. Their tastes overlap enough though that there is a fair amount of movement between the shelves. For © Through the Magic Door 43
    • example, the Hardy Boys are still pretty heavily trafficked, Richie just having taken to them and Frank still enjoying rereading old favorites. The rule of the house is that if a book is out on a table or on the floor, you have to ask if anyone is reading it before taking it. Every six months or so, Mom will do “The Migration”. Usually on a Saturday, she will ask each of the kids which books they want to keep on the shelves, which ones they are willing share with the others if they are interested, and which ones can go into the attic. Books that are offered up to be shared are moved between rooms. All books on the floor are reshelved. Some books from the living room will occasionally be moved into the kids’ rooms depending on emerging interests. Books on high shelves are moved lower and vice-versa. The point of the whole exercise is to keep the books fresh and not fall into a reading rut. It’s kind of like great Grandpa plowing the fields – a different plowing pattern each year to keep the soil fresh and control erosion. Another reason for “The Migration” is to keep room for new books coming into the house. Mom and Dad, since the very beginning, have always encouraged family and friends to give books as birthday and Christmas presents. Grandma Jones always does this, not everybody else quite as diligently. Still, there are always new books coming in for which space must be found. Mom and Dad keep a list of each of the children’s reading interests, favorite authors, etc. They share the list with anyone wanting to give one of the children a gift. There tends to be a core set of books which all three kids want to keep accessible, basically ones that they all loved when they were little. A few favorite picture books, some poetry books, early chapter books. Mom has to be careful to make sure that Richie’s shelf doesn’t get filled only with the younger books that everyone else wants to have available. In fact, it is a little bit like the hand-me-down clothes in Grandma’s story, Mom has to make sure that Richie is getting books special to him and not just everyone else’s favorites. Most of the books on the kids’ shelves are paperback but there are plenty of hardbacks scattered among them. Over the years, Mom and Dad have gotten pretty good at recognizing which books are most likely to appeal to all three children and they get hardbacks of those, anticipating frequent and prolonged wear. In all, each of the children has about a hundred to a hundred and fifty books in each of their shelves to which they have regular access, and not counting what they pilfer from one another. To this number should be added the library books. When Mom and Dad were childless, they might get to the library every month or two but since the kids came along, it is part of the family routine. Every Saturday, everyone that is available makes a trip with Mom or Dad to the neighborhood library. Each child is allowed to check out up to ten books. The general structure is that they have half an hour to trawl the shelves and pick what they might like to read that week. Mom or Dad help by bringing along suggestions to each child which they either add to their selection or © Through the Magic Door 44
    • not. When the kids were really young - and they have been doing this weekly visit since each of them was about six months old - Mom and Dad did most of the selecting. Now, it is usually only a handful of proffered suggestions which are added to the stack. Mom in particular has made sure that each of the children has been introduced to all of the regular librarians. Not all of the librarians are equally interested in knowing their patrons but most of them are polite about it and several of them have stood close with suggestions as the Jones children have grown. Knowing their likes and dislikes, they not only make suggestions but even keep an eye open for new acquisitions that one or another Jones child might like. When something new comes across the counter, they sometimes hold on to it till the next Saturday to suggest it to one of the children. Their neighborhood library, as well as three or four others that are within reasonable driving distance, has a library sale of surplus books once or twice a year. Mom keeps a list of these dates and usually they make it to three or four sales a year. Some of the sales are by the bag ($5 for all the books you can fit in a bag) sometimes by the foot ($5 for a foot of stacked books) and sometimes by the book (50 cents for paperbacks or $1 for a hardback). No matter what the pricing policy or structure, there are always some great finds – the kids treat it as a treasure hunt. Mom made it a tradition to make a big deal about getting your own library card. It started with Leira but she has done it with all three. A month or two before Leira’s eighth birthday, Mom started talking up how she was getting old enough to have her own card. The first day after her birthday, Mom took Leira down to the library, got the form for a card and sat beside her at one of the desks while Leira filled it out. On receiving her very own card, Leira beamed. She had arrived. They stopped at an ice cream parlor on the way back to the car to celebrate. When Frank approached his eighth birthday Mom went through the same process, this time with Leira as chorus. Leira told of how she knew she was finally growing up when she got her library card for the first time, a mark of progress that resonated with Frank. By the time Richie came along to be inducted, it got almost silly with Frank and Leira making such a big deal of this rite of passage. There is also a little bit of a ritual about the library run each week. When they get home with their new stack of books, each of the children is supposed to put the books in a special box in their room, the library box. In theory, all of the books are supposed to stay there all week except for the one being currently read. The library box came into being as a consequence of several late fines early on when Leira couldn’t find the library books in the drifts of books about her room and under her bed. The idea of the library box is better in theory than in practice but it has helped to keep the library books from the public library from getting mixed in with the home books and books from school. None the less, each week, half an hour before going to the library Mom will call out “Get your library books together” which is followed by scurrying, rustling, mutterings from © Through the Magic Door 45
    • behind closed doors, accusations of “I loaned it to you, you had it last” and so on but usually all books are turned up within the allotted time. As the kids have grown older, it is less often that they all go together to the library. Richie has a game. Leira’s theater group is rehearsing. Frank is meeting a friend. But almost always there is at least one and usually two of the kids along. Whoever can’t go is allowed to make requests. When they were all under ten though, they were all there, like the ducklings behind Mrs. Mallard. At that age it was especially valuable to have the library because it allowed Mom and Dad to cycle through a lot of picture books to find the styles and authors that each of the children most liked. There was a lot of sampling. From the time the kids were about six months old, Mom and Dad have made it a routine to read to the children for half an hour each night. When they were especially young, they would all curl up on the big bed together and read two, three, four, or five books. As they got a bit older and each of the kids had a different bed time schedule (Richie earliest, then Frank, then Leira), they each got their own individual reading time. This worked pretty well up until about the age of twelve. Leira was such an enthusiastic reader that she really wanted to read on her own from about ten onwards. Frank, at eleven is still happy to be read to but is just as happy to read on his own or simply get on to bed. Richie wouldn’t give up his reading time at all. Mom and Dad have quite different reading styles. While they both will read almost anything that is requested of them and will willingly re-read a book many, many times as often happened when the kids were young, they each just approach it differently. Dad has a preference for ballads and poems and also has his own preferences among the books the kids love and will often suggest what to read, or in the case of poems, will simply add it in. He is a bit of a ham and does a little more declaiming and rendering of the text than simply reading. He has been known to get up and act out parts, a practice which has added to the reservoir of family reading lore such as the time he stepped on the cat while re-enacting a particularly dramatic passage from Treasure Island. Mom is a little bit less boisterous. She reads well and clearly but is a cuddlier reader. She also on occasion will stop in a passage to talk about what is happening and ask questions to make sure that the child is following. When each of the children got to the stage of learning to read, she would occasionally point out words that she thought the child ought to recognize, sounding out the word. Later, as they progressed, sometimes she would alternate lines with them on a poem or let them read a page and then she read a page. She was careful not to make it a task but looked for chances to leverage their attention while she had it. There are other reading routines in the Jones household. When he is not travelling, Dad gets home about 6:30 in the evening. After putting down his brief case, taking off his tie and jacket, checking on how each of the kids’ day went, he settles into the big armchair in the living room for fifteen minutes before dinner to read the newspaper (sometimes one of the magazines to which they subscribe but always at least a quick perusal of the © Through the Magic Door 46
    • paper). The kids have grown to understand that this is his reading time and not to interrupt except for homework or something serious. Once Leira became a reader, she helped coach the other two into respecting other people’s uninterrupted reading time. When they have dinner together each evening, the only meal they all share (breakfast before school is a bit of a hit and run affair), Mom or Dad usually find some opportunity to ask about a book someone is reading, relate something from a book they are reading or recount some interesting story in the paper. Whenever one of the kids is home sick from school, that is always a book feasting day unless they are completely incapacitated. Mom, in the midst of everything else she is doing will find an opportunity at least once an hour or so to come and read to them for ten or fifteen minutes. Occasionally, if it appears that they might be out for more than a day, she will do a special run to the library for them and stock up. Mom and Dad both have stacks of books by their bed; Mom usually three or four that she has going at the same time; Dad usually a couple of dozen that he means to get to. Mom’s nightly routine is to go up to bed at about 10pm with her current book and usually with some statement to the effect that “I’ll just read for a few minutes.” The reality is that as soon as she is in bed, comfortable and warm, she is asleep after the first ten words. Dad usually has to remove the book from her unconscious clutches when he comes to bed. Mom claims that she is happy to reread a child’s book to them twelve times in a row because she at least is finishing the book whereas she has reread the same first sentence of the paragraph in her book now for thirty nights in a row. Dad on the other hand stays up to watch the late news, read a little and then usually comes to bed around 11pm when he will actually read for another half hour. When the kids were little, Leira and Richie both got in to the habit, if they woke for a drink of water or with a nightmare or simply if they were lonely, of coming in to snuggle up to their dad while he was reading. When he finished, they would have fallen asleep and he would gently carry them back to their own bed. Another custom is the book bag. It sits by the front door for any occasion. It is filled with some twenty books, some pertinent to only a single child, some of interest to all three (though this has become more challenging as they have grown). There are also two or three audio book CDs as well for longer trips. Whenever she is doing the transportation run of getting kids from school to a soccer game, from a sports practice to a friends party, from school to the doctors for a check-up, Mom brings along the book bag. If they end up having to wait in the doctors office, have to wait in line to pick up a sibling after a game, have to be among the spectators at a game, the book bag is there and out come the books; sometimes for a five minute read, sometimes for a fifteen minute read. Unlike going to the library, going to the bookstore is not nearly so regular a routine. The Jones usually get to a favorite local bookstore once a month or so, usually on a Friday evening when they have all been out for a meal at a favorite restaurant. It is in the same © Through the Magic Door 47
    • mall and if it is not too late, they will spend a half hour prowling around the bookstore. The kids are mindful of the expense of books but do love having a new book on their shelf. Dad is pretty much a sucker for what the kids might like but Mom tries to keep them to $25-35 a kid. Bookstores are where Mom and Dad first ran into an issue of what they would feel comfortable letting their kids read. It was very easy in the early days when they as parents did all the choosing and they did all the reading. Wonderful old stalwarts of children’s literature which kids still love such as Doctor Dolittle might have some very aged characterizations of certain groups or use terms and phrases we no longer use. When Mom and Dad did the reading, they simply glossed over these words or issues. Later, when the kids started being able to read for themselves, they began to catch Mom and Dad skipping sections. They then switched tactics and would instead take the bull by the horns and discuss the issue. Still not a big deal. But when Leira and then Frank became truly independent readers, making their own selections from the school library, and often choosing books that were hot favorites among friends, Mom and Dad had to become a little clearer about their guidelines. They have always taken the perspective that the most important objective was for the kids to love reading and that as long as they read a lot, they would eventually gravitate towards good books in the sense of good literature. This was a view endorsed by Grandma Jones and her forty years of grade school teaching. “I always had way more kids to worry about that weren’t reading at all than I ever did have to worry about what they were reading.” For a long time, Mom and Dad had only three real restrictions: No gratuitous sex, No gratuitous violence, and No gratuitous cruelty. They would occasionally counsel against a particular book on the grounds that the kids might not be old enough yet to enjoy it, but they never outright forbade it. By the time Leira, Frank and Richie were set afire with that familiar passion for reading that often overcomes newly autonomous readers between eight and twelve years of age, Mom and Dad were pretty confident in the values they had already instilled. Still there was some teeth gritting when books came home about dogs with gastrointestinal issues, joke books that were decidedly off-color, books about dating vampires, series books about mean girls, collections of comic strips, manga books, cookie cutter sci-fi books, etc.. Sometimes they would call the school librarian just to check on the book. Sometimes they would ask Leira or Frank what the book was about, and whether they were enjoying it. Sometimes they would ask if they might read it after them. All in all it was a delicate balancing act of steering the children towards good books, books that would engage them, books from which they might learn while at the same time not being too intrusive, not disempowering them of choosing, not creating a censorious atmosphere that discouraged reading. © Through the Magic Door 48
    • It came to a head one evening at their favorite local bookstore. They had had a fun dinner together with a lot of conversation, bantering and laughter. After making their selections, each of the children presented what they wished to purchase. Frank’s selection consisted of a sci-fi and a fantasy book, both of which Dad recognized as being by authors that Frank really liked. What ignited Dad’s old Scottish heritage were the three manga books. Leafing through them, the edicts on gratuitousness seemed to be reasonably challenged plus they were pretty expensive. It was as if the expense of them were an insult. Dad turned to Frank and said “I’ll definitely buy these two hard backs but I am not wild about these manga books. If you want to buy them, that’s fine, you can, but I am not going to.” Frank looked a little disappointed. He took back the three manga books held them for a minute considering, then said “No, I don’t think so, thanks” Somehow that momentary consideration of whether it was worth his own money to buy the manga books also made Frank reconsider whether they were even worth reading at all because they stopped coming home from the library soon afterwards. Akin to having their own library cards and making their own decisions, each of the three children, Leira, Frank and Richie, all liked being trusted by their parents in their choices and were conscious of making good choices. What helped in this whole process of growing and trusting was that the Jones’ had always been a talkative household. So talkative that meals were a necessary interlude in the evening to not only take nourishment but also to learn about telling short stories, staying brief, taking turns, not interrupting, etc. They had a great role model for story-telling in grandmother McFadden, Mom’s mom. She had come over from Scotland as a little girl, the daughter of a sea captain and a mother who painted landscapes. Grandmother McFadden wasn’t all that big of a reader but she was certainly a great story teller and she had a lifetime of stories to tell of the glens in Scotland, sea voyages with her father, and of being a stranger in a new land. While there were some tried and trusted stories that the grandchildren always wanted to hear again, almost nothing could happen without some new story coming to mind that they had never heard before. Mom and Dad were no slouches either and could make the most inconsequential happenings of the day into an adventure or story of pathos. The kids were used to this talking. From the very beginning, as little babies, there were back and forth sounds and words and gestures and faces. There were lots of word games, little ditties, songs and singing; they floated along on a sea of words. As Leira and Frank came along, they were gently coached into learning how to tell stories in their turn. By the time Richie was learning to speak, Leira and Frank were there to coach as well but perhaps a little more forcefully – though as a third child, Richie was almost inherently robust. © Through the Magic Door 49
    • Given this story-telling, talkative environment, rich with books and reading, it is no surprise that each of the Jones children were on a first name basis with their school librarians. In some cases the relationship was very good. Indeed, very, very good. As each child entered a new school, Mom would make a special effort in the first couple of weeks to introduce herself to the librarians, mention her child and what they were interested in reading and what help she might need from the librarians, particularly in terms of identifying good books the kids might enjoy. Leira of course was the trail blazer. By the time Richie came along there was no real need for introductions; the Jones’ were well known readers. Working with the teachers to sustain a healthy reading environment was a little more challenging. For one thing, and particularly as the children moved up in the grades, there simply were more of them. For another, with greater quantity there was also greater variability. In some cases the teachers were big readers and welcomed the chance to make recommendations about titles pertinent to their subject that the kids might enjoy for leisure reading. Some had classroom libraries that were clearly well used, in others there either was no room book collection or it had a dusty look. In other cases, the teachers were more technicians, they wanted to teach their particular subject and reading was incidental. None-the-less, Mom made the effort every year to meet each new teacher and set reading expectations. All in all, the Jones home was a fun place where much went on. Friends came and went. Hobbies were started, indulged in, and sometimes lapsed. The family made a lot of expeditions to interesting sites within driving distance. Movies were attended and discussed. Museum exhibits occasionally attended. The children each found time for favorite sports, they participated in activities such as Boy Scouts, and found clubs that they really enjoyed. Underlying all this were some common elements – a lot of talking and storytelling, a lot of reading, a lot of freedom of choice, and a lot of books and magazines everywhere. Mom and Dad made sure that they provided clear guidelines for book care and choosing but gave the kids maximum autonomy. They made sure there were reading routines that provided a predictable structure to the day. They created an environment around the dinner table where everyone could participate in the conversation. They stayed attentive to their children’s reading needs and interests but did not try and push the children faster or further than they were comfortable doing. They made reading a personal part of each child’s life – associated with the smell and comfort of their parents, of the tales of Grandmother McFadden, of snuggling next to Grandma Jones with a stomach full of cookies and milk. In the Jones household, reading and story-telling and conversation were as much a part of the environment as water and food and air. © Through the Magic Door 50
    • APPENDIX B - Hypothetical Model of How Enthusiastic Reading Influences Life Outcomes While it is well established that enthusiastic and habitual reading are associated with positive life outcomes, there is no agreed upon mechanism by which this might be effected, though there is much informed speculation. Following is a proposed schema for how enthusiastic reading might indirectly have a causative relationship with desired outcomes, rather than just a correlative relationship. For any individual, we have a variance of starting points, variance in environmental influences (family, community, etc.), and we have variance in outcomes. No system of government with a heterogeneous population has yet found the means to equalize beginning points. Virtually all efforts have been invested in identifying mechanisms that can mitigate the variance in starting circumstances by addressing variances in environmental influences, principally through schools. A persistent experience has been that while these school interventions can make a difference in the short term, none of them seem to have long term effectiveness. We posit three predicate assumptions that interact with one another to explain, or at least make sense of, disparate outcomes. The first assumption is that each individual is a product of many different influences. Some of these sources of influence are captured in Figure VIII. Figure VIII - Factors Influencing Personal Development © Through the Magic Door 51
    • The consequence of these different sources of influence (categorized as Family influence, Community influence, and Other influence) are five-fold. Every individual inherits some genetic dispositions (mental, athletic, behavioral, health, etc.) which are either amplified or retarded by their environment. The environment provides a more or less consistent set of societal norms which in turn help shape the individual’s value system. The environment provides the capacity to reinforce or redirect behavioral and attribute characteristics of the individual. The environment provides or handicaps the means for the individual to acquire create, store, access, use, share, and manipulate knowledge. The environment gifts the individual with some major or negligible store of resources for their consumption, investment or disposal. Sources of influence may or may not be consistent with one another. Values to which a child is exposed in the family and church environment may be inconsistent with those to which they are exposed in school. The reconciliation of these inconsistencies is a function of time, impact and a host of barely identifiable factors. For example, an extremely tight relationship with grandparents (even if little time is involved) may outweigh detrimental impacts of dysfunctional nuclear family dynamics. The model cannot predict what the outcomes might be. All it can do is recognize that there are complex interactions which cumulatively shape an individual. There are further twists in the consideration of sequencing. For example, Sports may have various positive and negative connotations and consequences to a particular child but those consequences will be different depending on whether the child is involved in Sports early or later in their childhood and for older children, depending on the nature of which other influences might have already affected their development. When one considers the number of sources of influence on a particular child and the complexity of the interaction of those influences, the relative incapacity of schools to materially affect long term outcomes on a sustainable basis becomes more comprehendible. A second model which we posit is the relationship between reading and attribute formation. By attribute, we mean those elements of personal behavior which are developed over time and which influence our capacity to accomplish given outcomes. At one level this might be described as skill sets but more fundamentally we are focusing on behavioral traits such as reliability, punctuality, ability to anticipate, risk estimation and management, pattern recognition, imagination, abstract thinking, critical thinking, etc. Our supposition is that an environment rich in conversation, story-telling and reading is one which directly and indirectly reinforces core personal attributes. We believe that it is certainly the case that voluminous conversation, story-telling and reading also contributes to a framework of knowledge (you know more than you would otherwise) but suspect that the critical influence is on attribute formation and reinforcement. © Through the Magic Door 52
    • This model is reflected in Figure IX. Figure IX – The Influence of Reading on Attribute Development The hypothesis is that voluminous conversation, story-telling and reading help a child form a framework of skills and attributes which are beneficial towards making effective choices and achieving desirable outcomes. Some of these attributes are associated with the simple act of reading such as self-discipline, sustained focus, and prioritization. Other attributes are fostered by the nature of reading such as the development of empathy, curiosity, imagination, pattern recognition, forecasting, social and moral judgment, critical thinking, estimation, anticipation and others. Some attributes are reinforced through the specific nature of the stories and familial reinforcement such as attitudes towards personal responsibility, courage, optimism, etc. We believe that an environment which is rich in conversation, storytelling and reading is one which accelerates and bolsters the development of key behavioral attributes which facilitate good decision making and execution. This is especially so when amplified by effective skills and knowledge acquisition usually associated with school instruction such as vocabulary, decoding, numeracy, etc. © Through the Magic Door 53
    • Our third assumption is that one’s childhood influences are magnified through the lens of reading and then become integral and critical elements of the typical process activities associated with a normal life of goal setting, action execution, and attainment, as modeled in Figure X. Figure X – Factors Shaping Individual Decision Making The individual vectors that contribute to a given outcome (Resources, Knowledge, Attributes, History, Values, Will, and Norms of Behavior) are explicated in Appendix C. Figure X attempts to communicate that the effectiveness of an individual in responding to the vicissitudes of fate is dependent upon their capacity to accurately understand their starting point (History), determine why they wish to accomplish this outcome (Values), assess what they are willing to do in order to bring about the outcome (Will), estimate the material and financial resources required (Resources), understand the social environment in which they must operate (Norms of Behavior), comprehend what they need to know in order to proceed (Knowledge), and understand which personal skills and attributes they will need to deploy in order to bring about the desired outcome. There are clearly multitudinous variables that affect the probability of a positive outcome, all of which are subject to exogenous circumstances. There are also many pathways of influence between these different vectors. As a simple example, an individual rich in resources may have a much lower threshold of will to action as the potential consequences, positive or negative, may be negligible to them. Because each vector is affected by the cumulative experience of the individual and because habitual and enthusiastic reading is a potentially critical element in the accumulation of experiences, the process of habitual and enthusiastic reading can be seen © Through the Magic Door 54
    • to have an influence on the outcomes desired. This is especially so given that the specific outcomes of reading can be seen to be particularly relevant to four of the seven vectors. Specifically, enthusiastic reading is likely to increase one’s social awareness (Norms of Behavior), increase one’s store of information (Knowledge), to have reinforced and clarified one’s values (Values), and reinforced and amplified ones reservoir of useful personal attributes and skills (Attributes). Figure XI is a representation of these three models and their presumed interaction with one another. Figure XI – Reading as an Intermediary Between Childhood Experience and Life Outcomes The model makes sense from a dynamic decisioning perspective and explains many anomalies of behavior as well as well established norms (why do family fortunes tend to expire within three generations, why do some people from very deprived backgrounds succeed where some people from privileged backgrounds fail, etc.) While there are plenty of studies supporting constituent elements of this dynamic model, there is nothing that tests it in aggregate. © Through the Magic Door 55
    • APPENDIX C There are seven vectors which materially affect the ability of an individual (or groups) to conceptualize a desired outcome and then to achieve that outcome through problem analysis, resolution planning and execution. These seven vectors are independent of one another but also affect one another in incremental and cumulative fashions. While success along one vector may be critical and necessary to achieve the desired outcome, it is usually not sufficient. Figure XII – Factors Shaping Individual Decision Making Resources Knowledge Attributes Grandparents Extended Grandparents Extended Grandparents Extended Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances F am ily F am ily F am ily Sports Fri end s Sports Fri end s Sports Fri end s SELF y SELF iy SELF iy it t t un un un Othe Othe Othe mm mm mm r Co r Co r Co R eadi ng Church R eadi ng Church R eadi ng Church Society School Society School Society School A ssociation s/ A ssociation s/ A ssociation s/ C lu bs/ C lu bs/ C lu bs/ Hobbies Hobbies Hobbies Realizing Norms of Behavior Life Choices Grandparents Extended Grandparents Extended Grandparents Extended Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances Neighborhood Nucl ear Acquaintances F am ily F am ily F am ily Sports Fri end s Sports Fri end s Sports Fri end s unity unity unity SELF SELF SELF Ot Ot Ot Comm Comm Comm h er h er h er R eadi ng Church R eadi ng Church R eadi ng Church Society School Society School Society School A ssociation s/ A ssociation s/ A ssociation s/ C lu bs/ C lu bs/ C lu bs/ Hobbies Hobbies Hobbies History Values Will These vectors are: • Will – What are you willing to do? • Values – Why is it worth doing? • History – From what base are you starting? • Resources – What resources are required to achieve the goal? • Knowledge – How should you proceed? • Attributes – What behaviors will be called into play to achieve the goal? • Norms of Behavior – What are the social expectations of the environment in which you live? The seven vectors are an aggregation of an individual (or group’s) life experiences which in turn are shaped by the circumstances around one’s family life, reading history, preferred activities, schooling, religion, etc. © Through the Magic Door 56
    • Will What are you willing to do? Will is the vector that covers the conversion of the current state to some future state. It involves trade-offs, sacrifice, and usually some level of disruption and discomfort. All the planning and knowledge in the world and all the good intentions come to naught if there is no will. Will is closely linked to imagination. The more powerful your ability to conceptualize a different and more desirable outcome, the greater will can be deployed to achieve that outcome. Will is the capacity to exercise personal choices and to bear the consequences of those choices. Evidence of the degree of will being exercised includes postponing present for the future, making trade-offs of one desired goal for another, and putting at risk existing resources for uncertain outcomes. Evidence of low will include blaming others for undesirable outcomes, avoiding making undesired trade-off decisions, and unwillingness to take risks. Do you have the will to make the sacrifices necessary and to take the risks to achieve the desired outcome? Values Why is it worth doing? What are the values that shape your decision making and what is the prioritization of those values? How do you view your fellow man, what are your obligations to them? What are your obligations to the future and the past? How does your sense of duty, obligation, charity, tolerance, trust, individualism, sense of justice, generosity, kindness, liberty, loyalty, etc. shape your decision making process? Beyond the measurable and utilitarian benefits, why is this course of action worthwhile? History From what base are you starting? What are the accumulated experiences and circumstances that have shaped your starting point? What is your weltanschauung? What are your prejudices and assumptions? © Through the Magic Door 57
    • These may be subject to change but everyone starts from some base and that base influences how you proceed. How do your accumulated life experiences shape you comprehension of the issue and the steps necessary to achieve the desired outcome? Resources What materials are required to achieve the goal? Resources refers to the material and financial resources upon which one can draw in pursuing some goal. Do you have the materials and financing necessary to achieve a given outcome? Knowledge How should you proceed? Knowledge refers to both immediate and accessible knowledge. If you don’t know something personally, do you know how to gain access to that information (books, experts, etc.) Knowledge encompasses knowing both about the immediate issue as well as the context of the issue. Do you know what needs to be done? Personal Attributes and Experience What behaviors will be called into play to achieve the goal? The personal attributes and experience vector is a measure of one’s capacity to turn a plan into reality. It is not enough to simply know what needs to be done, nor is it sufficient to be very willing. You have to have some level of competency and behavioral attributes that can make the plan a reality. It is no good setting out on a plan if you are to abandon it at the first set back (persistence), if you can’t effectively prioritize what things need to happen first (prioritization), if you can’t adjust to new data (pattern recognition), etc. The presence and strength of individual attributes which are commonly associated with achieving positive outcomes, particularly when exercised with caution and balance are many. Attributes are usually reinforced and buttressed by experience. Typical positive attributes might include: empathy, sustained focus, curiosity, imagination, pattern recognition, forecasting, estimation, patience, social and moral judgment, critical © Through the Magic Door 58
    • thinking, self-control, prioritization, persistence, etc. These are all attributes which facilitate problem recognition and resolution. Do you have the behavioral attributes that will allow you to be effective in executing the actions necessary to achieve a given outcome? Norms of Behavior In what fashion do you proceed? Norms of behavior covers all those issues not actually legislated: customs of speech, dress, eating, conversation, etc. the adherence to or ignorance of which can make all the difference in ultimate success. What are the local, quotidian customs, usages and fashions which need to be acknowledged and accommodated as you proceed? © Through the Magic Door 59
    • APPENDIX D - Activities for Supporting a Reading Culture in the Home © Through the Magic Door 60
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category Ask questions, mimic their sounds when young. Use real words. Open Single highest correlation to reading Talk to them, all the time. topics. Rhymes, riddles, noises, jokes. and grades Talk A Lot Learn rules of conversation, story telling, review summary, taking turns, Talk A Lot, Make it Share meals together Dinner time conversation etc. Personal Discuss what they have read, summarize, assess, alternative Learn sequencing, summary, Discuss Books endings. implications. Talk a Lot Tell stories of what you have done and what family members have done, sometimes to make a point, sometimes to entertain, sometimes to reassure Learn sequencing, plot, description, Talk a Lot, Make it Tell Stories kids that it happens to everyone. structure, succinctness. Personal Relate stories to day to day Binds spoken words to written words Make Connections experiences to day-to-day life. Anchors utility. Talk a Lot Limit the number of questions that can Requires thinking through an answer Make Sure Questions are Open be answered with a yes or no. and structuring a response. Talk a Lot Introduces fun, randomness, and Talk a Lot, Celebrate Play with words Rhymes, riddles, puns, poems nonsense. Books, Variety Links visual narrative to oral Use wordless books Illustrated books without text narrative. Reinforces variability. Talk a Lot Periodically review old family picture Reinforces storytelling, oral narrative, Talk a Lot, Make it Family Picture Albums albums sequencing, plot. Personal Discuss what is being seen, Reinforces storytelling, oral narrative, Talk a Lot, Make it Visit Places pertinence, relavence to stories read. sequencing, plot. Personal See a play or movie of a book already Reinforces storytelling, oral narrative, Plays and Movies read. Holiday plays. sequencing, summary, plot. Talk a Lot Sing bedtime songs, favorite songs, Reinforces attentiveness and Talk a Lot, Make it Sing ballads variablity in storytelling Personal Reinforces importance you place on Talk a Lot, Be Seen Reference books you have been books, communincates utility, models Reading, Make it Discuss what you have read reading and news you have garnered communication. Personal Ask a question for your child to answer Plant ideas/questions after you have read the book. Focuses mind on narrative and detail Talk a Lot Point out consistency with and Reinforces attentiveness, focus, Discuss Illustrations contribution to narrative. anticipation Talk a Lot Point out items and ask where they as Question and Response they recur in the story Build word sound connection, focus Talk a Lot © Through the Magic Door Use plenty of sounds to supplement a Relieves monotony, introduces Talk a Lot, Make it Sounds story surprise, entertainment. Personal For early chapter books, recap what Focuses mind on narrative and detail, has happened, ask what might happen encourages imagination and Recap and Anticipate next anticipation Talk a Lot Common author, style of illustration, Encourages engagement, focus on Connect books style of writing, subject details Talk a Lot, Variety How does it make you feel, what did you learn, which characters did you Reinforces comprehension, focus on Ask their opinion like, why did they do what they did detail Talk a Lot Reinforces time for conversation, modelling structured communication, Talk a Lot, Make it Undertake shared tasks Cooking, repairs, household chores makes time for talk Personal Periodically introduce new games, read Reinforces time for conversation, the instructions, play rounds. Word modelling structured communication, Talk a Lot, Make it Play board and card games games in particular such as Scrabble makes time for talk Personal Pay attention to questions asked and make sure they are answered, even if multiple times. Definition of words, Encourages clarity of communication, pronunciation. Use dictionaries and attention to detail. Models utility of Talk a Lot, Be Seen Answer Questions encyclopedias books. Reading Talk a Lot, Make it 61 Encourage older children to read to Personal, Celebrate Sibling Reading younger children Excitement of responsibility. Books Models curiosity, anticipation, Make asking questions a feature of logical/sequential thinking, effective Ask questions everyday conversation ways of obtaining information Talk a Lot
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category Tell stories about things they used to do, ask them what they recall of past Reinforces attention, memory, Recollect trips or events summary, analysis Talk a Lot Use audio books to supplement real Useful use of time, basis for shared reading. Particularly useful on long car discussion, some children remember journey's and children that are more spoken sounds easier than visual Books Everywhere, Use Audio Books aurially oriented. images Read to Them Read every evening for at least half an Establishes an expectation of always Read to Them, Reading hour as part of the ritual for closing the reading and provides a framework Routines, Make it Establish a reading routine day. and structure to a day. Personal When they are tired, hurt, frustrated, Read to Them, Make it angry - use reading to distract them Personal, Reading Use reading as a redirection and reorient them. Helps preserve parental sanity. Routines In the car while waiting, at the sports Read to Them, Books game while waiting, in the doctor's Embues reading into the day and an Everywhere, Reading Read at all opportunities office while waiting. expactation. Routines Keep a bag of books/magazines by the door, always available without You'll always have something to read Books Everywhere, Maintain a travel bag of books preparation to them, even when not planned Read to Them Act out parts in the story, choose books that will appeal to both of you, mix up If it's a chore, if you are bored, the the reading so there is new stuff, funny pleasure associated with shared Make Reading Fun stuff, unexpected stuff reading becomes diluted. Read to Them Read from signs, from instruction The magical utility of reading is manuals, from food packaging, from something we take for granted but is Read to Them, Be Seen Read other than books cookbooks indeed magical to a child. Reading Allow your child to take over some of Useful for reluctant readers and for the reading - Alternate characters, all readers making the transition from alternate pages. For younger children, you reading to them to independent Shared Reading let them turn the page. reading Read to Them Children love the physical presence of their parent, the sound of your Start reading to them from birth. Short voice, your smell. That steady snatches of poems, songs with presence will always be associated pictures, anything short to match their with reading from before reading Reading from the start attention span. meant anything to them. Read to Them Short stories for young children, clear font for very early readers, stories with Reading books that are longer than strong plot for emerging readers, their attention span, books that don't cliffhangers for independent readers, hold their interest, books that are books that are consistent with your offensive to you are all quick means values, strongly illustrated for those to killing a reader before they become © Through the Magic Door Make sure the shoe fits that are visually oriented. one. Read to Them The flow and rhythm of poetry helps children recognize patterns of language. The structure lends itself Intermingle poetry among the stories. to easy comprhenesion and Especially useful when young, it predicting what comes next. Short Poetry remains pertinent through early readers pieces. Read to Them Artful, ironic, sardonic, has its place and time but can complicate the Straightforward reading Simple stories, characters, plot. process of reading in the early years. Read to Them Keep in mind how your baby views a Until they comprehend books as book - as an object. Board books for books, they are simply an object, babies, sturdy bindings, small books for maybe something to eat. Early Physical books small hands. reprimands stick with them. Read to Them Make it fun, emotionally reassuring and find ways to open doors to new ideas The longer the routine of reading is so that they still want to read together voluntarily maintained, they more even when they can read likely they will be to become habitual Read for as long as allowed independently readers Read to Them If there are subjects that are uncomfortable to raise in normal Particularly as they enter their teen conversation or which your child is years, children want to exert Use novels to broach difficult avoiding, use novels and stories as a autonomy, often by closing off topics Read to Them, Talk a subjects neutral ground to discuss they wish to discuss. Lot 62
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category There may be thematic strands across Read a sampling of the books them that are helpful to understand Allows you to target the books most Read to Them, Be Seen you see your teens read issues they may be wrestling with. likely to be of interest to them. Reading, Talk a Lot Many older books are accessible by sound but are challenging to a new reader (e.g. Tom Sawyer). You are giving them a taste of what is to come: anaticipation. Older children often love to revisit childhood favorites but might be embarassed to Read older books to younger children do so on their own: you are a perfect Read to Them, Talk a Be a Bridge and younger books to older children. excuse. Lot, Celebrate Books Enfuse your readings with dramatic Children that are or who have displays, different voices, physical become accustomed to TV may need Act out Books enactments a bridge to the standards of reading. Read to Them Use a well illustrated story and have the children tell the story without ever Develops focus, attention to detail, Have the children tell the story letting them see the text. Then read imagination and capacity to tell a Read to Them, Variety, from the pictures the story. story Talk a Lot Archaic language, stereotypes and customs change over time. What Topics will come up, values once acceptable may no longer be questioned, words used, authorial so. Either prepare the child in devices exploited that will require either advance or discuss when it comes Read to Them, Talk a Be Prepared preparation or discussion up. Lot Children go through severl phases of Be mindful of your child's age, marked neurological development in developmental level, reading capacity, their childhood. Rushing them and interests. What they are able to through material before they have the read is not always what they ought to capacity to integrate it can be Read to Them, Talk a Don't Rush read. detrimental. Lot Reading fractured fairy tales before traditional fairy tales are only amusing if you already know the traditional Judge what they are already familiar tales. Read shorter stories before with as a predicate to what they ought longer, simple stories before more Read to Them, Talk a Judge Sequences to be reading next. complex. Lot If you thought a child would like an Children are highly variable and author, a story type, a series but they capricious. If the planned material Don't be afraid to change are not demonstrating interest, don't be isn't engaging them, find something Read to Them, Talk a © Through the Magic Door course hesitant about changing gear. that will. Lot Some evenings they need settling and closure - reach the end of the story or chapter. Other evenings, When reading to them, judge whether they need to anticipate or digest - Choose when to stop they need closure or a cliffhanger. stop at the high point of action. Read to Them Children tend to have great memories and are attentive to patterns. They will memorize a story long before they can read it. Stories with mnemonics of repetition and familiarity help their memories and Choose books with rhythm and Choose books with poems, repetition, the platform for learning to read. predictability recognizable/familiar characters. Builds confidence. Read to Them Boardbooks, hardbacks, paperbacks, magazines. Poetry and narrative. Abstract illustration and realistic. Muted colors vs bright. Stories strong on plot versus stories strong on character. Fiction versus fact. Fantasy versus reality. Historical periods, Allows you to hone in on what they Read to Them, Variety, Mix up your reading material ethnicity, gender. are most attracted to. Serendipity 63
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category For young readers, find books with For the very young, they can look to characters that are distant enough to animals as experiencing issues the be different but close enough to learn child is experiencing and take a from. Typically animals with human lesson. For older children, it is a Read to Them, Talk a Choose Analogs activities. Winnie the Pooh protagonist to who they can relate. Lot Children build patterns and models of comprehension. Every time you reread a particular book they are interpreting and re-interpreting and Read the same story to them as often building some model of Indulge Reptition as they desire to hear it. comprehension. Read to Them Children are highly variable and Keep books that are rejected and retry capricious. What didn't fit at one Revisit rejected books them weeks, months or a year later. particular time might fit now. Read to Them For many, reading is an individual past-time but for some, a social Many forms - neighborhood context can enhance the pleasure of Read to Them, Talk a Consider a young reading club cooperatives, same age vs mixed age. reading. Lot When your child asks you a question to which you do not know the answer, make them part of the process. Let them see you referencing the Talk a lot, Make it encyclopedia, go to the library, Modeling the importance of books as Personal, Be Seen Let questions grow research it. a repository of information. Reading Read the paper in the morning, read to relax in the evening, carry a book with If it is not apparent that books are you everywhere. Politely defend you important to you then they won't be to Be Seen Reading, Be seen reading reading time. your children Books Everywhere When you take your children to a library or bookstore, make sure that they see you buying or checking out a If it is not apparent that books are Take your children to libraries book as well. You are there for important to you then they won't be to Be Seen Reading, and bookstores yourself as well as for them. your children Reading Routines The more adults (and children want to be like adults) they see modelling Fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, reading, the more normal it is to a If possible, multiple models grandparents, friends child. Be Seen Reading During the years that you are reading Children are very attuned to you. If to your children, make sure that there you are never interested in what is When picking books for them, is at least a smattering of books that being read, they will take a message Be Seen Reading, pick for you as well ignite your enthusiasm. from that. Celebrate Books Whatever the space in your home that your children associate with you, make sure that books are part of it. The den, © Through the Magic Door the kitchen, living room, by your bed, in Children are very attuned to you. If Be Seen Reading, Make sure "your" space has your study, in your car, in your brief books appear important to you, they Celebrate Books, Books books in it case. will be important to your children. Everywhere Read the newspaper at breakfast, the news in the checkout line, the Children are very attuned to you. If magazines at doctors offices. Pack books appear important to you, they Be Seen Reading, Lead by example books when going on vacation. will be important to your children. Celebrate Books Ask family members and friends to Reinforces the model to children of Be Seen Reading, volunteer to read to your children, talk reading as a normal and expected Make it Personal, Read Enlist confederates about books, or be seen reading. behavior. to Them Set some regular schedule (once a Sets a schedule of anticipation. Make library visits a part of your week, twice a month) when you Allows for routine refreshment of new Books Everywhere, weekly routine collectively go to the library. reading material. Reading Routines For some it is just a job but if you can Whether in public library or the school find the apostle, they are an endless Books Everywhere, Cultivate your librarians library, get to know your librarians. source of recommendations Make it Personal Most authors only have a portion of all their work in print at any given When your child has found a favorite, point in time but you can find most of Use libraries to exploit a favorite go back to the source and find more by their work in the library (or at used author or series the author or illustrator. bookstores) Books Everywhere 64
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category Organize the books in a place and at Given your child's height, can they a height that a child can easily and Make Access Easy reach the books easily. routinely reach. Books Everywhere When planning a trip, going to an exhibit, visiting a new part of the country, obtain books about the place Integrates books as part of the Books and Events in advance. normal course of events. Books Everywhere For favorites they re-read continuously, you want it constantly Make sure each child has a few available. Separate from that favorites they can call their own. If children often attach great Make sure they own a few possible make sure there is a importance to "their" book, especially Books Everywhere, books bookshelf in their room for their books. if it is from someone special. Make It Personal Take full advantage of library sales, These are the places to find unusual bookstore sales, yard sales, and other books that make take your child's similar opportunities to amass large fancy without costing an arm and a Books Everywhere, Exploit cheap books numbers of books cheaply. leg. Variety, Serendipity Leave magazines and books (older and younger) around the house (on the You never know what may catch their coffe table, on the side board in the fancy. Keep an eye on what is Books Everywhere, Sow the seeds kitchen) getting attention. Variety, Serendipity Chidlren want to be adults and this is As soon as they are old enough, get one of the earliest markers of Books Everywhere, Library card them a library card. responsibility. Variety, Serendipity As your child grows, keep adding Books Everywhere, Add and Winnow books to the house. Keep them reaching for more. Variety, Serendipity Make photo albums, scrapbooks and Talk a Lot, Books similar books together with your child Opportunity for story telling and Everywhere, Make it Make books and add them to the family library. making stories personal. Personal Use a baby shower as the event to Ties your child to stories of who gave Books Everywhere, Leverage opportunities launch a home library for your child. them which books. Make it Personal Show your anticipation when a favorite authors comes out with a new book, Reinforces unstated understanding of Celebrate books, Be Be excited when you find a new author you like. the importance of books. Seen Reading Book posters, pictures of characters, Reinforces unstated understanding of Decorate with books favorite author posters the importance of books. Celebrate Books Children will read up in good time. Forcing them to take on levels of Make sure that the books around the reading with which they are not yet house cover a variety of reading levels confident is often a quick way to turn © Through the Magic Door Expose, don't coerce and topics them away from reading. Don't Rush Children move faster or slower at different times of their development, sometimes they will regress to younger books, sometimes to less Monitor the longer view rather than just challenging comics, sometimes Maintain perspective a daily or weekly aspect reading little for a month or two. Don't Rush Critical: The easiest way to tell at what level they are comfortable reading, what genres they like and what issues they are focused on is to Give them the power of choosing the let them choose. Manage through Give Them the Power Let them choose books they are interested in. pre-selection and indirect discussion. of Choice Talk through your preferences. If they Censoring tends to create a wish to read more comics, be willing to mystique. Always a fine line but the pay for books they do like but make SOP ought to be discussion before Give Them the Power Discuss rather than censor them buy their own comics. restriction. of Choice Women (still the prevalent gender among teachers and librarians) often Make sure that whatever source you recommend fiction more than non- are using for recommendations fiction, character development over Give Them the Power 65 matches the areas of interest of your plot. This usually creates a of Choice, Variety, Be alert to genre prejudices child. disincentive to boys Serendipity
    • Kinder- 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th Infant Toddler Pre - K garten Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Activity Description 0 to 1 1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 4 to 5 5 to 6 6 to 7 7 to 8 8 to 9 9 to 10 10 to 11 11 to 12 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16 16 to 17 17 to 18 Reason/Circumstance Category Familiarity with characters and Even if you aren't wild about the series, standard plots assists children in Give Them the Power Let series work their magic let them indulge their interest. becoming more fluent readers of Choice Whether a special chair, room, corner - make sure there is good light, Particularly in the younger years, Have a comfortable place for comfortable space, comfortable reading is about being secure, and Make it Personal, Quiet reading temperature comfortable and with you. Places Slip a riddle or joke into a lunchbox, Talk a Lot, Make it Private reading have a secret code, inside jokes. Security of secrecy Personal Read recipes together. Read the Cook with your child to develop labels on ingredients together. Make a Make it Personal, Talk a literacy family cookbook of favorite recipes. Books as a hinge to fun activities Lot, Celebrate Books Turn off the TV and control the Take Control computer Too easily a mindless default. Reading Routines Pop-ups for young ones but I Spy books, Cross-Sticks, Crosswrod Variety, Celebrate Exploit activity books puzzles, Sudoku, Where's Waldo, etc. Keeps it fun Books Giant sized books, match book size, Variety, Celebrate Have a few freak books and other oddities Keeps it fun Books © Through the Magic Door 66
    • APPENDIX E - Tools for Identifying Barriers to Creating a Reading Culture Among any particular population of parents there are potentially many barriers that can be raised in terms of the challenges to Growing a Reading Culture. In fact there are so many potential circumstances or combination of circumstances that it is impossible to address them all. However, it is an observable outcome that families are able to sustain a reading culture under virtually any circumstance. As is often the case, sometimes the issue is that there are conflicting objectives that consciously or unconsciously take precedence over the objective of Growing a Reading Culture. In that case, the exercise becomes one of identifying which and how many of the actions identified in Appendix D can be implemented while still pursuing the other priorities that take precedence. Where Growing a Reading Culture is indeed the real priority, then the exercise becomes one of classic root cause analysis to identify whether and why the identified issues are indeed real barriers. A database of commonly raised barriers and the corresponding tactical solutions that are frequently taken to either rectify the problem or mitigate its impact is included in Appendix F. As noted above though, there are an infinite number of very specific individual circumstances that can be raised. Rather than getting into an un-resolvable loop of objection:resolution:objection:resolution, it is usually preferable, if the standard answers are not sufficient, to use a couple of common quality management techniques that can more expeditiously center on the root causes for a specific problem and its specific circumstances. The first tool to use is an Ishikawa Diagram (such as in Appendix C) to propose and test sources of variance or barriers to achieving a desired outcome. An Ishikawa Diagram is also known as a fishbone diagram. A description of the uses of an Ishikawa Diagram are available through Wikipedia. This should be used in conjunction with another standard quality management tool, also available through Wikipedia, The Five Whys technique. In Appendix F are gathered some of the most frequently raised issues (which can be grouped as subsets of: I don’t have enough time; I can’t afford it; I don’t know what to do or how to do it.). Also listed are the most frequently identified tactical approaches used in addressing the issue. © Through the Magic Door 67
    • Appendix F - Tactical Actions to Address the Most Common Barriers to Creating a Reading Culture © Through the Magic Door 68
    • Barrier Actions GARC Steps Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are I don't have time to read to them capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. What activities are being pursued that take precidence over creating a reading culture? There may certainly be some that are more important. Analysis Make the time Read to Them Read labels when you are shopping Read to Them Read to them while waiting in line Read to Them Read to them when you are picking up other kids Read to Them Read to them when you are running errands and are stuck waiting Read to Them Have an older sibling practice reading to a younger sibling Read to Them Have a family member read to them Make it Personal Always have a bag of books and magazines with you Books Everywhere Establish a routine of reading Reading Routines Even if you are in a hurry, read at the pace they enjoy Don't Rush Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are I don't have time to read myself capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. What activities are being pursued that take precidence over creating a reading culture? There may certainly be some that are more important. Analysis Read the newspaper at the breakfast table before leaving for work. Reading Routines Reading with your child counts Reading Routines Read something, even if only a paragraph, just before you go to bed. Reading Routines Have a favorite reading chair. Reading Routines Make a point of finding your favorite magazine in the mail. Reading Routines When you take them to the library, be seen looking for books for yourself and checking out at least one. Reading Routines Both parents involved, even if on a different schedule. Reading Routines Make the time Be Seen Reading Read the newspaper at the breakfast table before leaving for work. Be Seen Reading Even if it is work or school reading. Be Seen Reading Always have a book (and/or magazines) with you, in the car, in your briefcase, etc. Be Seen Reading Reading while you get your child's hair cut. Be Seen Reading The briefer the time period, say ten minutes, the more critical it is for the children to see that that time is yours only for reading Be Seen Reading Have a book or stack of books by the bed. Make sure to circulate them. Be Seen Reading Make a point of referencing something you have been reading. Be Seen Reading Read quotes or excerpts that you think they might find interesting. Be Seen Reading Comment on which books you read recently that you enjoyed and why. Be Seen Reading Ask for a book for birthday, Christmas, etc. Be Seen Reading Pick up the paper in the check-out line. Read a magazine while waiting at the doctor's office. Etc. Be Seen Reading Contest who get's to take the kids to the library this week. Be Seen Reading © Through the Magic Door 69
    • Take books on vacation or when travelling for business. Be Seen Reading The price of new books have had a higher rate of inflation than for most other categories of consumer products over the past thirty Books cost too much years. Affirmation While new books are undoubtedly a material cost, they compare favorably to most other comparable consumer products (cost of a movie, theater performance, sports event, video game, etc.). There are plenty of techniques for managing the cost of book acquisition. Analysis Encourge family and friends to give books as gifts. Make it Personal Borrow books from friends. Make it Personal Make your own books (scrap albums, phot albums, etc.) Make it Personal Encourage books at baby showers Make it Personal Use the class library Books Everywhere Use the school library Books Everywhere Use the public library Books Everywhere Use used-book stores Books Everywhere Thrift shops Books Everywhere Library book sales (especially for core books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, art books, survey books, etc.) Books Everywhere Church, volunteer or other association book sales Books Everywhere Yard sales Books Everywhere Subscribe to newspapers and magazines. Books Everywhere Check out foundations such as Reach Out and Read. Books Everywhere Create a change jar. When it is full, convert to currency and use the proceeds for a trip to the bookstore. Books Everywhere Use the library Reading Routines For the 20-30% of the popluation in small towns and rural areas, the consolidation of book retailers has meant fewer and fewer available bookstores, a problem extending even to some larger There is no bookstore near me towns and suburbs. Affirmation This is an issue of access. How else can I access books? Analysis Encourge family and friends to give books as gifts. Make it Personal Use the class library Books Everywhere Use the school library Books Everywhere Use the public library Books Everywhere Use the internet (esp. TTMD) Books Everywhere Subscribe to newspapers and magazines. Books Everywhere For the 20-30% of the popluation in small towns and rural areas, access to lbraries can be problematic, a problem extending even to There is no library near me some larger towns and suburbs. Affirmation This is an issue of access. How else can I access books? Analysis Encourge family and friends to give books as gifts. Make it Personal Bookstores (new and used) Books Everywhere Use the class library Books Everywhere Use the school library Books Everywhere Use the internet (esp. TTMD) Books Everywhere Subscribe to newspapers and magazines. Books Everywhere © Through the Magic Door 70
    • American familial structures and work circumstances are such that it becomes more and more challenging to establish and maintain the type of patterns and rhythm of home life that used to make The kids aren't home when I read these sorts of things easier. Affirmation When or in what other ways can they see the importance of books to you? Analysis Read the newspaper at the breakfast table before leaving for work. Be Seen Reading Always have a book (and/or magazines) with you, in the car, in your briefcase, etc. Be Seen Reading Reading while you get your child's hair cut. Be Seen Reading Have a book or stack of books by the bed. Make sure to circulate them. Be Seen Reading Make a point of referencing something you have been reading. Be Seen Reading Read quotes or excerpts that you think they might find interesting. Be Seen Reading Comment on which books you read recently that you enjoyed and why. Be Seen Reading Ask for a book for birthday, Christmas, etc. Be Seen Reading Pick up the paper in the check-out line. Read a magazine while waiting at the doctor's office. Etc. Be Seen Reading Contest who get's to take the kids to the library this week. Be Seen Reading Take books on vacation or when travelling for business. Be Seen Reading Particularly as the enter their teens, children begin wanting to My kids don't want me to see what establish some distance and independence from their parents. It is they are reading. a reasonably universal pattern of development. Affirmation How do you continue to demonstrate your engagedness with the importance of reading while giving them the lattitude and independence to be their own reader? Analysis Ask what they have been reading and what new ideas they have come across. Talk a Lot Make it a dinner time conversation: "So what have you been reading lately". Talk a Lot Diagnose without being intrusive. Older children often desire privacy. Subjects they are not comfortable with. Topics they think you might not approve. Read to Them Affirm the importance of reading rather than the specificity of what Variety is the Spice of is being read at a particular point in time. Life Allow them discretion unless there is a strong foundation for concern. Give Them Choice Particularly as the enter their teens, children begin wanting to Now that they can read on their own, establish some distance and independence from their parents. It is they don't want me involved. a reasonably universal pattern of development. Affirmation How do you continue to demonstrate your engagedness with the importance of reading while giving them the lattitude and independence to be their own reader? Analysis When they no longer wish to be read to, focus on discussing the books with them. Talk a Lot Ask what they have been reading and what new ideas they have come across. Talk a Lot Make it a dinner time conversation: "So what have you been reading lately". Talk a Lot © Through the Magic Door 71
    • Even once they are independent readers, sometimes they will enjoy reading together around traditional events, for example, getting out the Christmas books and re-reading them together at Christmas time. Read to Them Sometimes you can eke out the period of reading to just a little bit longer. Once they have crossed the Rubicon of independent reading, you might still get away with reading to them when they are ill. Read to Them Encourage your older children to take on the role of reading to their younger siblings; sometimes a sixteen year old will be permitted to read to a twelve year old when a forty year old will not. Make it Personal My kids are completely scheduled. Children are leading lives that are more and more circumscribed, They don't have time to read. planned and scheduled. Affirmation What are your priorities? Analysis Make the time Read to Them Establish a routine of reading ex. 1/2 hour before bedtime. Reading Routines Model for them snatching reading during the momentary delays of the day Be Seen Reading Reduce unnecessary distractions such as turning off the TV Quiet Places Talk up books so that they are motivated to find the time. Make it Personal Encourage them to use transportation time for reading Reading Routines Manage the Encourage free reading at school Environment It is not uncommon for librarians to have rules that make sense Our librarian doesn't like children to given their training or which are pertinent to the broad class of take out more than three books a customers with whom they deal but which are not appropriate for week individual readers. Affirmation Why does the librarian have this rule? What are they seeking to accomplish? Analysis Meet with librariana and discuss your children's reading needs. Appeal to higher authority if needed. Make it Personal Understand librarian's reasons for rule and address. Make it Personal Adults are leading lives that are more and more circumscribed, By the time I get home, I am too planned and scheduled. Adult sleep deficits are a known condition tired to read for a good portion of the population. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. What activities are being pursued that take precidence over creating a reading culture? There may certainly be some that are more important. Analysis Establish routines, meals and sleep in particular to help with lethargy. Reading Routines Enlist spouse to do the shared reading as well. Reading Routines Enlist friends and family to read to your children. Make it Personal Do your shared reading on the weekend Reading Routines Manage the Solicit free reading at school with teachers. Environment Encourage older siblings to read to younger siblings. Make it Personal Make our reading routine morning oriented - Ten minutes at the breakfast table. Reading Routines © Through the Magic Door 72
    • Librarians are like any other profession with some aflame with a Our librarian doesn't really know love of what they do, some that are good solid practitioners and a good children's books few that are drudges. Affirmation Is there someone else in the library that might serve in place, i.e. interns, librarians assistants, etc. Is there a demand for children's books and services which the library simply hasn't been alert to? Analysis Shift from school library to public library or vice versa. Reading Routines Manage the Ask the librarian for other sources of recommendations. Environment Manage the Ask teachers to make recommendations. Environment Scan circle of family and friends for enthusiastic readers that can recommend Make it Personal Manage the Find a trusted website - TTMD, Other State Libraries, Bloggers Environment Manage the Investigate other library systems locally and on the web. Environment I'm too busy to find the books my Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are kids are likely to be interested in capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. What activities are being pursued that take precidence over creating a reading culture? There may certainly be some that are more important. Analysis Ask teachers, librarians, family members, friends to make Manage the recommendations. Environment Manage the Use web resources such as TTMD. Environment There's not room in my house for all those books It is easy for homes to fill up. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small spaces. Analysis For the space in the house, prioritize for perennial favorites. Books Everywhere Rely on the library for sampling books. Books Everywhere Cull less preferred books every six months Books Everywhere Use book cases and book shelves in unexpected places (library under bunk bed, shelves over windows, etc.) Books Everywhere Rotate books among neighborhood book club Books Everywhere It get's expensive with all the late fees for over-due books Overlooked books can quickly add up. Affirmation Is it inattention, carelessness of keeping track of books, or lack of dilligence in getting back to the library in a timely fashion? Analysis Establish a book box for all library books to live in. Books Everywhere Shift reliance from public library to school library or to classroom library. Reading Routines Investigate alternate libraries: adjacent county, church, organizations, etc. Books Everywhere I don't know what the kids are Every child has different interests as well as a greater or lesser interested in talking about. propensity for conversation. Affirmation Is the issue with your comfort in conversation or in theirs? Analysis Ask them. Talk a Lot Spend time with friends that converse well and observe their patterns. Talk a Lot © Through the Magic Door 73
    • Ask teachers and librarians what kids are focused on. Talk a Lot Converse with them about things you are interested in and see where there is engagement. Talk a Lot Book selection can be a highly faddish process, sometimes driven I don't know what they are reading. by publisher marketing, sometimes by social caprice. Affirmation Where are they getting their recommendations? Where and when are they doing their reading? Analysis Ask them. Read to Them Ask what their friends are interested in. Read to Them Ask teachers and librarians for what kids are reading and why. Read to Them Parents, with every other responsibility which they carry, cannot be I don't know where to get good expected to be current with all the qualities and issues of even a recommendations. tiny fraction of the 35,000 books published each year. Affirmation How do you define good recommendations and good books? How and to what end do you use reviews? What are the characteristics of a good review for you? Analysis Ask Librarians and teachers. Read to Them Ask friends with similar aged children. Read to Them Ask family members that are enthusiastice readers. Read to Them Use trusted resources such as TTMD and other web sites. Read to Them I don't have time to read a bunch of Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are reviews. capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and finding ways to obtain the same ends by different means. Analysis Find trusted advisors Read to Them Ask friends with similar aged children. Read to Them Ask family members that are enthusiastice readers. Read to Them Use trusted resources such as TTMD and other web sites. Read to Them Use library book lists. Read to Them It is natural that there will be some variance among children as to how much they read. This is different from whether they like to read at all. It is also frequently the case, especially in middle and high school, that there are ebbs and flows in the volume of reading They aren't interested in reading. that a child does. Affirmation Distinguish between not liking to read versus not reading a lot. Some enthusiastic readers are still slow readers. If it is really the case that they are not enjoying reading, what are the root causes? No quiet place? No routine? Not the kind of books they enjoy? More pressing commitments which they enjoy more? Social issue? Is it that they don't like stories at all or is it that they don't like to read those stories for themselves? Are there other issues going on for which a disengagement from reading is only a symptom? Is this temporary or longer term? Attention span? Analysis Investigate source of issue: Are the types of books (reading level, subject matter, strength of plot, illustrations, writing style) being offered what they are interested in? Read to Them Investigate the source: Is the reading environment conducive to reading? Read to Them Investigate the source: Are there too many distractions to reading? Read to Them © Through the Magic Door 74
    • Investigate the source: Where are they spending their time and why is that more attractive to them? Read to Them Investigate the source: Is it your reading style? Read to Them Investigate the source: Is it the time of day or the environment of reading? Read to Them Investigate the source: quality of vision. Read to Them Since controversy tends to drive sales, there is a tendency for magazines to sometimes push the envelope of appropriateness. Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the material. The more restrictive your criteria are, the more of a challenge it becomes to I don't want them to read ensure that there is plenty of material to support the formation of inappropriate material. the habit of reading. Affirmation What is the source of your concern? Words, violence, sex, cruelty, concepts, values, age appropriateness? The more clearly your concerns can be articulated, the easier it is to address them. Research supports that it is not so much the content of a book that shapes a child's views as it is the family values that form a context for that reading. Analysis Ask the librarians and teachers. Give Them Choice Investigate reviews. Give Them Choice Talk with your child about the subject material. Give Them Choice Discuss concerns and why concerned. Give Them Choice Establish clear guidelines of expectations with children. Give Them Choice Since controversy tends to drive sales, there is a tendency for magazines to sometimes push the envelope of appropriateness. Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the material. The more restrictive your criteria are, the more of a challenge it becomes to I don't trust what they might come ensure that there is plenty of material to support the formation of across in magazines. the habit of reading. Affirmation What is the source of your concern? Words, violence, sex, cruelty, concepts, values, age appropriateness? Is it that you require books from within a preferred cultural or religious tradition? The more clearly your concerns can be articulated, the easier it is to address them. Research supports that it is not so much the content of a book that shapes a child's views as it is the family values that form a context for that reading. Analysis Talk with your child about the subject material. Give Them Choice Discuss concerns and why concerned. Give Them Choice Establish clear guidelines of expectations with children. Give Them Choice Ask the librarians and teachers for recommendations on trusted magazines. Give Them Choice Ask trusted counsellors, advisors, ministers on trusted materials. Give Them Choice Children go through reasonably predictable cycles of reading which include rescidivism (reading books that are well below their reading capabilities), series reading (an infatuation with a single I don't want them wasting time on author or a series), easy reading (defaulting to comics, manga, comics and easy-reads. etc.). Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 75
    • Why are they doing this? If it is part of consolidation process (re- reading old favorites) there isn't much of an issue. This is to be expected and desired. Is the issue not the format (comics) so much as the content (graphic language, etc.)? Analysis Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the material. Give Them Choice Be aware of reading capability. Don't Rush Be aware of children's habit of recidivism - going back and reading materials with which they are comfortable. Don't Rush Investigate the issue: Ask them what they are enjoying about the troublesome material. Don't Rush Ask librarians and teachers for quality comics and graphic novels. Books Everywhere Make sure they are aware of what others (whom they admire) are reading. Make it Personal Solicit support from influencers to raise expectations. Make it Personal I don't have any stories to tell. Many people are unaccustomed to the practice of story-telling. Affirmation What is it that makes you uncomfortable? Is it revealing details, just the narrative structure or something else? Analysis Try it out, you are there benchmark for excellence. Talk a Lot Listen to people who's conversation you enjoy and observe their styles. Talk a Lot Ask older relatives for their stories. Talk a Lot Be alert to interesting snippets to relate from newspapers, magazines, etc. Talk a Lot Make up stories. Talk a Lot Poetry reading has become an unduly constricted past time with I never learned any poetry. which many people are unfamiliar. Affirmation What poems most appeal to you? Analysis Ask librarians and teachers for recommended anthologies. Talk a Lot Reward their recitations with a cookie. Talk a Lot Joint reading of poems and discussion. Talk a Lot I don't know how to do all the read- aloud stuff. Public speaking and reading are not widespread traits. Affirmation What aspects of reading out loud most appeal to you and which aspects do not appeal to you? Analysis Ask a family member or a friend with children who like to read to overhear how they read to them. Read to Them Try it. Read to Them Ask your children what they like about when their teachers read to them. Read to Them I don't know any jokes or riddles. Joke telling appears to be an acquired skill. Affirmation What types of jokes (puns, riddles, nonsense rhymes, humorous tales) most appeal to you? Analysis Ask librarians for anthologies Read to Them Find booklists at TTMD, library sites, etc. Read to Them Check out recommendations of child oriented organizations such as Boy Scouts or summer camps. Read to Them We have too many different schedules to all sit down to a meal Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are at the same time. capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 76
    • It is a matter of priorities. What prevents a common meal schedule? Can it me shifted to mornings? Can it be just on the weekend? Analysis Prioritize. Talk a Lot Shift meal focus to the weekend. Talk a Lot Optimize where necessary (MTF schedule vs. TTH schedule for example). Talk a Lot Find another time for communal conversation such as driving to school. Talk a Lot They get frustrated when I read with Like any collaborative activity not everyone's interests and them. agendas mesh all the time. Affirmation What is the source of the frustration? Distractions, low interest in the subject or style of book chosen, physical discomfort, presonal issues or dynamics? Analysis Ask them. Read to Them Address specific root causes as pertinent. Read to Them They are so tired by the time they are done with homework and other activities, they aren't up for reading in the evening. Not uncommon and not necessarily a problem. Affirmation Is your child falling asleep because they are comfortable and secure or are they falling asleep because they are not engaged with the stories or simply that they are tired? Analysis Manage the Review schedules for optimization. Environment Ask about what they are enjoying or not enjoying about reading. Read to Them Is tiredness masking some other issue? Read to Them Shift to a morning or weekend focus. Reading Routines See "By the time I get home, I am too tired to read" Reading Routines I'm busy fixing dinner, I don't have Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are time to talk. capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. Analysis Involve spouse and whole family in meal preparation. Talk a Lot Give each child a chance to be the kitchen helper. Talk a Lot Have them read the cook book. Talk a Lot Model meal preparation as an experiment. Talk a Lot I get frustrated with some of the nonsense that they want to talk Everyone needs to find ways to remain charged about tasks that about. can sometimed be draining. Affirmation What is the source of the frustration? The nonsense, the repition, their inability to stay focused? Analysis Be aware that they are practicing their words. Talk a Lot Involve siblings in conversations, particularly older ones to help model conversational norms. Talk a Lot Redirect conversation in the style you prefer - they model on you. Talk a Lot Make a game of the silly things said, quoting them back in a fashion that subtly gets across that nonsense is fun only in some circumstances. Talk a Lot © Through the Magic Door 77
    • I never was any good with poetry - I can't play any of those rhyming Poetry reading has become an unduly constricted past time with games. which many people are unfamiliar. Affirmation What poems most appeal to you? Analysis Task a hammy spouse, sibling, or family member with this role. Talk a Lot Ask a librarian for an anthology of word games. Talk a Lot Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the material. The more I really don't like some of the values restrictive your criteria are, the more of a challenge it becomes to some of the books seem to be ensure that there is plenty of material to support the formation of encouraging. the habit of reading. Affirmation What is the source of your concern? Words, violence, sex, cruelty, concepts, values, age appropriateness? Is it that you require books from within a preferred cultural or religious tradition? The more clearly your concerns can be articulated, the easier it is to address them. Research supports that it is not so much the content of a book that shapes a child's views as it is the family values that form a context for that reading. Analysis Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the material. Read to Them Investigate the issue: Ask them what they are enjoying about the troublesome material. Read to Them Ask librarians and teachers for equally intriguing but worthwhile books. Read to Them Make sure they are aware of what others (whom they admire) are reading. Read to Them Solicit support from influencers to raise expectations. Read to Them Discuss the material with your child. Read to Them The last few books I bought just sat Book recommending is a hit or miss proposition. You are doing around without ever getting read. very well if even fifty percent of the books suggested get read. Affirmation What is currently driving their interests? What they are personally interested in, what others are reading, what might be useful for them in school, what makes them look good to other people, etc.? What are the characteristics of the authors they have enjoyed? Genres? Writing Styles? Analysis Talk with your child about the subject material and what they are Variety is the Spice of interested in. What were the books they have most enjoyed. Life Variety is the Spice of Solicit recommendations from librarians Life Plant a range of books around the house for them to find. Range Variety is the Spice of in terms of subject and in terms of reading level. Life I bought some baby books but they got torn up. Young children are definitely hard on books. Affirmation Chewing, throwing, tearing, etc. Analysis See if there are board book versions. Books Everywhere Concentrate on boardbooks and hardbacks of favorites for young children. Favorites will get reread dozens if not hundreds of times. Books Everywhere Use library books to try out new authors and titles and then buy the ones that catch your child's attention. Books Everywhere © Through the Magic Door 78
    • I have more than one child, I can't Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are get them all on the same schedule. capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation See "I don't have time to read to them." Analysis Enlist older children in the process of shared reading. Read to Them Divvy up children between adults on a rotating basis. Read to Them When they are out of school for the summer, they just want to relax, not Virtually all children appraoch summer as a release from read. obligation. Affirmation What is it about summer that they most enjoy and where might books fit into that? Analysis Reading is definitely an intellectual and engaging activity. Read to Them Plant a range of books around the house for them to find. Range Variety is the Spice of in terms of subject and in terms of reading level. Life Use library books to try out new authors and titles and then buy the Variety is the Spice of ones that catch your child's attention. Life Put reading in the context of some other activity: a summer reading Variety is the Spice of club, reading at the beach, etc. Life Variety is the Spice of Make reading a catalyst for something else, putting on a play Life Their books are always on the floor and out of order. The immaculate child is the non-child. Affirmation Why do they drop books where they lie? Laziness? Anticipation they will get back to it? Don't know where to shelve books? Analysis Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of tidiness. Books Everywhere Provide shelving for books. Books Everywhere Rotate books. Books Everywhere Store books periodically. Books Everywhere My child is . . . (ADD, autistic, Asperger, etc.), they won't sit still to read. Yes Affirmation What are the manifestations? What are their capabilities and interests? What can be built upon? Analysis Seek reading specialist assistance at school. Read to Them Use library books to try out new authors and titles and then buy the ones that catch your child's attention. Read to Them When you find a particular title repeat it as long as they wish. Read to Them When you see a positive response to particular styles of illustration or of writing, load up on those. Read to Them Library books are always going missing and then we have to pay for Not an infrequent occurrence, particularly if they are bearing the them. consequence of the fine. Affirmation Why are they not paying attention? Analysis Establish a book box for all library books to live in. Books Everywhere Shift reliance from public library to school library or to classroom library. Books Everywhere Investigate alternate libraries: adjacent county, church, organizations, etc. Books Everywhere I can't stand having to read the same thing again and again and Incessant repitition is a frequent phase of reading for almost all again. children. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 79
    • Just a fact of life. How can you enliven the repitition? Analysis Bite the bullet. Read to Them Enlist spouse, older siblings, family members as pinch hitters. Read to Them Use library books to try out new authors and titles to leaven the particular fascination. Read to Them I don't know how to teach them how to read. Besides, that's the school's Agreed. Not all parents have the orientation, training, time, etc. to job. serve as teachers at home. Affirmation What are the little tasks you can undertake that begin to lay the foundation for reading. The alphabet? Initial sounds? Small words? Analysis The biggest task is to set the reinforcing environment that encourages reading rather than to actually teach them to read. Don't Rush Do what comes naturally. Just talk about the words. Don't Rush Just read to them. The rest will come with time. Don't Rush It is more important to read a lot than to teach them to read. Don't Rush None of the books the librarian/teacher recommended, Book recommending is a hit or miss proposition. You are doing interested them. very well if even fifty percent of the books suggested get read. Affirmation The closer the person is to the child, the more they know them, their circumstances, their reading history, the more likely they are to hit on positive results. Analysis Try librarians at a public library. Read to Them Seek ideas from readers in the family, from reading friends, etc. Read to Them Discuss with your child what are the features they enjoy about the books you know they do like. Ask the librarians for books with those features. Read to Them None of their friends spend any time reading and they don't want to be The social environment of a child can be a material influence in seen as nerdish. their disposition towards reading. Affirmation Are there other friends that are readers? Can existing frineds be turned on to reading? Analysis See if their school will sponsor a reading club. Make it Personal Form a neighborhood/church/organization reading club. Make it Personal Make sure there is a wuiet place and time for them to read at home. Quiet Places Take them to author signing, reading athlete events, etc. Celebrate Books I don't like it when they ask questions I can't answer and don't have time to look up. Children are questioning machines. Affirmation You are the gold standard for your child. Knowing (and showing) how to find the answer is as good as knowing the answer. Analysis Enlist other family members to answer. Make it a game. Make it Personal Look it up anyway. Be Seen Reading Create a question book where questions can be recorded for later answering. Celebrate Books If it's something I'm interested in, fine but there are a lot of areas I Everyone has their field of interest and not every reader's interests don't know anything about. meshes with another's Affirmation How can it be made interesting to you? Analysis Bite the bullet. Read to Them © Through the Magic Door 80
    • Get more involved in selecting the books so that your interests are Variety is the Spice of covered as well. Life I don't have time to get them to act Time constraints afflict everyone. We can't achieve all that we are out stories from books. capable of doing or that we might wish to achieve. Affirmation How influential is the acting of the story on your child? Analysis Nice but not necessary (unless it is). Read to Them Let them put on a show for you. Make it Personal After a busy day at school, they Everyone needs to find ways to remain charged about tasks that need some quiet time and so do I. can sometimed be draining. Affirmation What is the source of the exhaustion? Too little sleep, too little alone time, too little predictability? Analysis Let them have a decompression time (snack, juice, nap), then homework then bedtime stories. Read to Them Switch to a morning reading routine if that is when they are most alert. Read to Them I can't think of any book activities at the time, it always comes to me later and too late. Agreed, it happens to everyone. Affirmation What stands in the way of preparation? Analysis Nice but not necessary (unless it is). Read to Them Plan ahead. Read to Them Discuss with teachers in advance. Read to Them I don't know how to ask all the questions about a book. Every new skill feels uncomfortable at first. Affirmation Is there a source to your anxiety other than novelty? Analysis Just give it a try. Read to Them Ask a family member or a friend with children who like to read to overhear how they read to them. Read to Them I don't know how to pick books at my child's reading level. Every new skill feels uncomfortable at first. Affirmation Is there a source to your anxiety other than novelty? Analysis Ask Librarians and teachers for age appropriate reading levels. Read to Them Use online resources such as TTMD Read to Them Get your child to describe what aspects of their books they enjoy. Read to Them I think my child should be reading better books than he is but he Every parent wishes the best for the child. The challenge is to doesn't seem to enjoy them. understand the context of what makes for best. Affirmation Where are the current books falling short? Analysis Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the quality of the material. Don't Rush Ask Librarians and teachers for age appropriate reading levels. Books Everywhere Get your child to describe what aspects of their books they enjoy. Talk a Lot Trust that if they acquire the habit of reading, they will eventually gravitate to higher quality literature (as studies confirm). Give Them Choice My child has outgrown the books that I have for her. Children's reading skills and interests are impressively changeable. Affirmation What does outgrown mean? Reading level? Subject? Writing style? Etc. Analysis Get her more. Books Everywhere © Through the Magic Door 81
    • Check out the bibliography of her favorite authors, many write across a wide range of ages. Aske your librarians for their recommendations. Reading Routines Keep a selection of her old books in the house but pack up the rest. Children frequently like to return to favorites even four and Variety is the Spice of five years past their reading level. Life Use the library for sampling. Reading Routines If she has younger siblings, see whether she is willing to share down for their reading pleasure. Make it Personal I can't tell what my child like's to read. Every new skill feels uncomfortable at first. Affirmation Is there a source to your anxiety other than novelty? Analysis Ask them. Talk a Lot Is it the illustrations? The writing style? The genre? Get them to describe what they most enjoy. Talk a Lot Look for patterns in the style of the books that they like. What about authors or ilustrators? Books Everywhere Describe your child's favorites to a librarian and see what they recommend. Reading Routines I look for books with at least four stars but they have too much Many contemporary books have broader concepts of what is inappropriate material. appropriate than expressed by mst parents. Affirmation What is the source of your concern? Words, violence, sex, cruelty, concepts, values, age appropriateness? Is it that you require books from within a preferred cultural or religious tradition? The more clearly your concerns can be articulated, the easier it is to address them. Research supports that it is not so much the content of a book that shapes a child's views as it is the family values that form a context for that reading. Analysis If your child's reading capability is significantly above their social maturity, discuss with their teachers and the librarians, both to stear them away from what might not yet be appropriate as well as to get suggestions for more complex texts with more appropriate Variety is the Spice of themes. Life Variety is the Spice of Sample from the library. Life Widen your source of recommendations (family, friends, librarians, Variety is the Spice of teachers, web resources, etc.) Life Given that the goal is routine reading, consider letting go of the stars for a while and focus more on just decent books that keep Variety is the Spice of them engaged, i.e. perhaps simpler texts that are still appealing. Life My child has mild dyslexia and does not enjoy reading. Yes Affirmation What are the manifestations? What are their capabilities and interests? What can be built upon? Analysis Discuss with your teachers and the school what a most appropriate Manage the plan of action might be. Environment Read to them: a lot. Read to Them My child has plenty of books in her room but she never seems to read Children go through material fluctuations of how much they read as them. well as the extent they even wish to be seen reading. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 82
    • Is it possible that she is reading them, she just is a neat reader and so it only appears that the books are undisturbed? Analysis Consider whether they are within her reach or displayed in a fashion that catches her eye. Books Everywhere Has she ever read them? Is it that they just are not interesting to Variety is the Spice of her. Are they of the reading level for her? Life Discuss with her what she is most interested in reading and which books she has most enjoyed in the past. Talk a Lot Does she spend time in her room. If she spends most of her time in the den, perhaps that's where her books ought to be. Quiet Places This is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence and it is usually well intended. Librarians often see parents wanting children to read far above their reading level (and therefore getting My child was discouraged by his discouraged). Librarians also encounter children that wish to librarian from reading anything "read" older books for social cache rather than actually reading above his reading level. them. Affirmation Why is the librarian doing this? What are they trying to address? Analysis Talk to the librarian about your child's reading history. Demonstrate your engagement and commitment to their love of learning. You might have to have your child come in and show that they understand the texts that they are reading and can Manage the discuss them. Environment If it is the school library and there is no resolution with the librarian, Manage the repeat with the principal. Environment If there is no satisfaction at the school level, switch to the public Manage the library. Environment We tried several prize winning books but they either didn't enjoy them or I Like any collaborative activity not everyone's interests and didn't like the material/values. agendas mesh all the time. Affirmation What is the source of the lack of interest? Was there a pattern to the books in terms of subject or writing style? Analysis Prizes are good for bringing attention to books but they are as subject to fads, trends and manias as anything else. Not all prize winning books are of interest to children and some aren't even interesting to many. Books Everywhere Get your child to describe what aspects of their books they enjoy and focus on finding books that appeal to them based on their experience and likes. Books Everywhere Widen your source of recommendations (family, friends, librarians, teachers, web resources, etc.) Books Everywhere Ask your librarians for recommendations. Books Everywhere Use the library for sampling. Books Everywhere Our house is too small/busy to have a place reserved for reading. We don't all have all the resources we might wish for. Affirmation What can be done to create an environment where reading can done with as little disruption or interruption as possible? Analysis Is there an attic, a basement, a closet, where a quiet reading nook can be carved out. Even a large box in the with its own lamp and cushions inside. Quiet Places Check with your school to see if there can be a time during the day where your child can use the school library for quiet reading. Quiet Places © Through the Magic Door 83
    • Is there a public library nearby where your child can go for quiet reading? Quiet Places Is there family nearby where your child can go for quiet reading? Quiet Places Instead of a place, can you arrange a time when things are quiet for reading? Quiet Places Kids are busy and exposed to many intersting things. It's not unnatural for them to be distracted. In addition, they are growing. The kids get too distracted with They are sleeping too little or too much. They are hungry, they've what's going on around them to had too much sugar, etc. There are many causes of distraction focus on reading. that have nothing to do with reading. Affirmation Investigate source of issue: Is it that what else is going on is more interesting? Is it the noise? Is it that the books being read are not interesting to them? Is it the wrong time to be reading? Are they just restless or too energized? Analysis If it is noise, create a quiet reading place or a quiet reading time. Quiet Places If it is that the book's aren't interesting, address that as recommended above. Celebrate Books If it is that they are restless, find out why: hungry, too pumped up, etc. Consider changing when in the day you read. Reading Routines This does happen. Children are not born having good skills at estimating future consequences or being able to prioritize their obligations, it is something that comes with time and experience. Addressing this issue is a delicate balancing act. On the one My child spends too much time on hand, you want to encourage the passion for reading (which has a reading and too little time on her very positive impact on long-term academic performance) but on homework. the other, they need to put another obligation ahead of reading. Affirmation Why are the reading more and studying less? Is there something going on at school? In the classroom? Are they retreating from unpleasant real world circumstances and hiding in books? Is it simply that they enjoy books more than the gruntwork of school. Analysis Create a routine around homework. All homework has to be done first thing after getting home from school or right after dinner or Manage the must be completed before leaving school. Environment If your child has their own room, move them into a public area (breakfast room or den) to complete their homework. Once done Manage the they are allowed to do whatever they want, presumably read. Environment There is a not inconsequential social component to reading. Sometimes there is a positive aspect where a child wants to read My child gets teased at school for up to their peers. Other times there is a negative aspect as in the books he is reading. bullying or teasing for reading at all or for the material being read. Affirmation What are the dynamics? All children teasing or just particular ones? Is it a clique issue or more pervasive? What is the nature of the teasing, what are the themes? Sometimes, what they are being teased for reading is simply a substitute for some other socialization issue. Analysis Manage the Discuss with teachers and school. Environment Manage the See if a school book club might be an option. Environment Seek out respected teachers in the school that will take a reading Manage the child under their wing. Environment © Through the Magic Door 84
    • Coach your child on effective ways to either turn aside taunts or to Manage the confront them. Environment In extreme cases, shift reading activities to home time over school. Reading Routines With more than 100,000 schools in the US, it is to be expected that there will be range of teaching effectiveness. There are some schools that do focus on test results and rote learning, over the wider goals of education: knowledge, wisdom, and critical thinking. Nobody at school is championing There are very few schools that explicitly seek to foster a love reading. All they focus on are the ofreading as opposed to simply making sure that their students can mechanics. read. Affirmation Why is the school focusing so narrowly on the mechanics? Is it the reward system? Is it an issue of teacher training? Is it an issue of a single principal or a single teacher? Analysis Manage the Discuss with teachers and school. Environment Manage the Start a book club. Environment Manage the Solicit intervention from the PTA Environment Discuss with your child. Make sure they understand the differences of values at home versus institutional values. Talk a Lot Schools are called upon to address more and more issues all the time. Teachers must handle more and more ranges or behavior The method of teaching reading and educational ability and personal circumstances. It is not doesn't seem to be working for my uncommon to find a particular teacher who in combination with a child. particular class just isn't effective for all the students. Affirmation Is it an issue of teaching effectiveness in general. Is it the particular method of teaching being used? Or is it a good method but the teacher just hasn't been well trained in it? Is it a broader issue in the school? Are other children having difficulties as well? Is there an issue particular to your child (myopia or dyslexia) that is encumbering their reading? Analysis Manage the Discuss with teacher, librarian and school. Environment Seek assistance from family members or friends that might have an education background. Make it Personal Manage the Investigate a reading tutor or some program such as Kumon Environment Add a fifteen minute period to the day where you are reading with your child and focusing more on coaching them (alpahabet, letter sounds, words, etc.) than on reading for pleasure. Keep distinct from the evening period of reading for pleasure. Read to Them It is natural that there will be some variance among children as to how much they read. This is different from whether they like to read. It is also frequently the case, especially in middle and high school, that there are ebbs and flows in the volume of reading that My child just doesn't enjoy reading. a child does. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 85
    • Distinguish between not liking to read versus not reading a lot. Some enthusiastic readers are still slow readers. If it is really the case that they are not enjoying reading, what are the root causes? No quiet place? No routine? Not the kind of books they enjoy? More pressing commitments which they enjoy more? Social issue? Is it that they don't like stories at all or is it that they don't like to read those stories for themselves? Are there other issues going on for which a disengagement from reading is only a symptom? Is this temporary or longer term? Attention span? Analysis Ask them what stories they enjoy, what types of authors, what genres, etc. Talk a Lot Solicit recommendations from librarians, teachers, friends, web Manage the resources, etc. Environment If they are younger, find ways to make reading more "fun" and engaging. Celebrate Books Get them more involved in telling stories themselves. Talk a Lot Use audio books to keep them engaged with story telling. Read to Them Shorten your reading sessions and see if they are more engaged? Read to Them Sample genres, different reading levels and illustration styles. Read to Them Even in a thoroughly engaged reading family, it is natural that there will be variances in how much reading a child does. It is not There are too many other things my uncommon for a child that is a habitual reader to also be heavily child enjoys doing than sitting involved in clubs or sports, etc. that limit the available amount of around reading. time for reading. Affirmation Is it that they don't have as much time for reading as the would like given their other commitments? If that is the problem, it is a good one and becomes a time management issue and one of prioritization. If, instead the problem is that there is no time for reading, then that is a different kettle of fish. See "My child just doesn't enjoy reading." Analysis My child always falls asleep when I am reading to her. Not uncommon and not necessarily a problem. Affirmation Is your child falling asleep because they are comfortable and secure or are they falling asleep because they are not engaged with the stories or simply that they are tired? Analysis See "They are so tired by the time they are done with homework and other activities, they aren't up for reading in the evening." Reading Routines See "My child just doesn't enjoy reading." Read to Them It is not infrequent, as part of children's normal developmental My child uses reading as a weapon processes for them to go through one or more cycles of rebellion of against me. It is his way of greater or lesser duration. It is their mechanism of asserting rebelling. independence. Affirmation Against what are they rebelling? You personally, the rules of the home, or something else? How is it manifesting itself? Deliberately choosing books he knows you find objectionable? Damaging books? Just not reading at all? Analysis Sometimes it is best simply to ride it out. Continue with your other reading routines, particularly those actions that affirm your own love of reading. Reading Routines Discuss what is going with your child. Talk a Lot © Through the Magic Door 86
    • Shift spousal roles. If one of you has been doing most of the reading to, shift to the other. Reading Routines It is natural for there to be large variances in reading capability My child is embarrassed because among children, usually of as much as two years either side of she is reading so far below grade. their nominal grade. This is especially true in their first ten years. Affirmation Is she frustrated with herself? Afraid that she is disappointing you? Embarrassed by what others might say? Or is she being actively teased already? Analysis Discuss with your child. Make sure they understand that you are seeking for them to enjoy the magic of reading and that that is not contingent on the level of reading. Remind them just how much you both enjoyed picture books. Talk a Lot Discuss with teachers and librarians. Seek guidance and Variety is the Spice of suggestions. Life Variety is the Spice of Investigate Hi-Lo books. Life Take her back to old favorites you read to her and have her read them to you. Build her confidence. Make it Personal Try and find out what she most enjoys about reading; genre, subjects, etc. Scatter candidate books around the house that she can pick and choose from. Give Them Choice Children can often become voracious readers between the ages of eight and twelve or so. It can be near impossible to keep up with what and how much they are reading. They will go on jags of My child really enjoys . . . (genre) reading all the books by one author, focus on all the books in a and I don't know which are the good series, or focus on a particular genre such as sci-fi, fantasy, books. historical fiction or such. Affirmation What is it about the particular genre with which they are fascinated? Plot, imagination, writing style, social cache? Analysis Solicit recommendations from teachers, librarians, reader family and friends. Books Everywhere Seek out web resources such as TTMD.com Books Everywhere Since controversy tends to drive sales, there is a tendency for edgier or more problematic books to garner all the attention. There is indisputibally a bias against traditional values in many corners of media and academia. Balance the importance of reading at all I want to be very careful about what with the importance of managing the appropriateness of the my child is exposed to and most material. The more restrictive your criteria are, the more of a books seem inappropriate in one challenge it becomes to ensure that there is plenty of material to way or another. support the formation of the habit of reading. Affirmation What is the source of your concern? Words, violence, sex, cruelty, concepts, values, age appropriateness? Is it that you require books from within a preferred cultural or religious tradition? The more clearly your concerns can be articulated, the easier it is to address them. Research supports that it is not so much the content of a book that shapes a child's views as it is the family values that form a context for that reading. Analysis © Through the Magic Door 87
    • Your capacity to substantially shape the values of your child are greatest in their first six to ten years. To the extent that you are concerned about books materially influencing their views, these Manage the are the years to focus on. Environment Seek suggestions from family and friend readers as well as teachers and librarians. Books Everywhere Seek additional web resources and recommendations from trusted institutions such as church, ethnic association, etc. Books Everywhere Use ttmd.com for value searches Books Everywhere Balance the importance of reading at all with the importance of managing the identity appropriateness of the material. The more restrictive your criteria are, the more of a challenge it becomes to ensure that there is plenty of material to support the formation of I am . . . (gender, ethnic, religious or the habit of reading. Research seems to confirm what most other group) and I can't find books suspect - reading is an exercise in imagination. If you can relate to with my people as protagonists. a steam engine as a protagonist, you can relate to anyone. Affirmation What is it that you are seeking to accomplish? Are you concerned with exclusivity (I only want books with X as protagonist) or are you simply seeking to supplement? Is it really particular values you are seeking to have reinforced? Analysis Seek suggestions from family and friend readers as well as teachers and librarians. Books Everywhere Seek additional web resources and recommendations from trusted institutions such as church, ethnic association, etc. Books Everywhere Use ttmd.com for value searches Books Everywhere My school has a competitive reading There are a number of such programs. While school systems tend program that my child strongly to like them for the aura of reinforcing reading, teachers and dislikes. They focus on the number librarians that love reading often disdain these programs because of books and the points rather than they focus on the mechanics and volume of reading rather than the enjoying the reading. love or reading. Affirmation Sometimes children that are not already readers will respond to the competitive ethos of these reading programs. They can accidentally find themselves becoming enthusiastic readers. On the other hand, most children who are already enthusiastic readers become frustrated with restrictions that are placed on what counts or simply disdain the bureaucracy of the process. They understand that competitive reading programs are as paint-by-the- numbers is to the Mona Lisa. Analysis If it works for your child, great. If it doesn't, reaffirm to them that you are fully supportive of them reading what they want rather than what is dictated by the program. Make it Personal My child has really struggled with her motor skills related to writing and This can and does happen. When reading becomes associated this has spilled over into her attitude with something negative or frustrating, it can take on negative towards reading. connotations which deter further reading. Affirmation Is the issue of motor skills a short term issue or longer term item. Are there other issues related to reading which is just laying at the door of frustration with writing? Analysis Make sure to separate in time those periods spent on motor skills exercises from your reading routines. Reading Routines © Through the Magic Door 88
    • Check with librarians, teachers, and ttmd.com for appropriate books emphasizing persaverance. Books Everywhere Increase the "fun" index of reading during this period by associating it with a nice snack or some such positive reinforcement. Make it Personal Lives are busier and more packed than ever. Depending on your We don't have time to get to the locaton and your libraries hours, they may not be a convenient library. solution to increasing your children's access to books. Affirmation This is an issue of access. How else can I access books? What other sources are available? Analysis See, "There is no library near me." When my child is at the library, all they are interested in is the Kids are busy and exposed to many intersting things. It's not computer section. unnatural for them to be distracted. Affirmation Is the library the only place they have access to a computer? Do they have routine access and they just prefer using the computer while they are there because they aren't interested in reading? What is it that they are enjoying or accomplishing on the computer that is better than finding new books? Analysis Make it clear that you are at the library for one purpose and not to Manage the get distracted. Environment See "They aren't interested in reading." Read to Them Between feeding and cleaning my The first couple or three years of a child's life are also perhaps the baby and how much they sleep, most constrained for a parent as well: the maximum amount that there's no time to read to them. needs to be done and done right fused with the least predictability. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small moments in the day. What activities are being pursued that take precidence over creating a reading culture? There may certainly be some that are more important. Analysis See "I don't have time to read to them." Read to Them All my child wants to do is stare at Children are capable of astonishing degrees of focus even if it the pictures. He isn't paying might be only for brief durations. This is likely to be only a stage attention to the story. and not a problem. Affirmation One of the strengths of picture books is that they provide all sorts of additional clues to your child regarding the nature of the story. It is likely that he is actually listening, it is just that he is scanning the pictures to reconcile what he is hearing with what he is seeing. Analysis Ride it out. Read to Them Children usually want to be adults. They want the freedom and the autonomy. They want to do what adults do. For some, they see My child has started to read but reading as something adults do and therefore it is a milestone to wants to do it all on her own, get's be accomplished in their goal of becoming an adult. Their frustrated and puts the book down. aspiration outstrips their ability. Affirmation Variety is a critical component for early readers. They need material they can read up to as well as material that they can revert back to which is more familiar. Why are they pushing ahead? Is there an implied expectation on your part or are they being pressed at school? Is it a social status thing? Analysis Make sure to have books that they are interested in scattered about. Books Everywhere © Through the Magic Door 89
    • Be sure to include old familiars as well as books they can read up Variety is the Spice of to. Life Adjust your reading routine to give them some level or autonomy. It is likely that after a period of reading on her own, she will welcome you back. Reading Routines Alternate which parent is reading. Read to Them Children usually want to be adults. They want the freedom and the autonomy. They want to do what adults do. For some, they see reading as something adults do and therefore it is a milestone to My child hates to be corrected and be accomplished in their goal of becoming an adult. Their doesn't want to be shown up. aspiration outstrips their ability. Affirmation Is there anything else going on? Is this really just an act of rebellion? Are there issues at school? Analysis If you are doing co-reading (you read a section then they read a section), moderate approach back to just reading to them. Take the stress out of the process. Read to Them Manage the Talk to their teachers for tips on reading instruction. Environment Have your child read their books to a younger sibling. Make it Personal Children between the ages of six and ten are probably most prone to this condition. Sometimes it is just a minor act of protest, sometimes it reflects that there is so much else that they are now My child thinks reading is able to do that they could not when they were only two or three "BORING". years younger. Affirmation Is it protest, personal rejection, or simply other things that are of greater interest? Analysis Alternate which parent is reading. Make it Personal See "They aren't interested in reading." Read to Them My child thinks reading is for "sissies", "nerds", etc. Children pick up all sorts of memes from among their peers Affirmation Are they parrotting what they have heard or are they being teased? What social dynamic are they responding to? Is this an excuse for not reading that has a different source? Analysis Which class of people (sportsmen, businessmen, firefighters, etc.) do they respect? Identify readers from the class or individuals whom they respect and make sure they engage with your child about reading. Make it Personal Form a neighborhood/church/organization/school reading club. Celebrate Books See "My child gets teased at school for the books he is reading." My child is always leaving books just There is an etiquette of book reading and book handling that where she put them down and get's children only acquire with time and of which they are often not fully really angry when I make her put the aware. Balance the importance of reading at all with the books away. importance of learning book ettiquette. Affirmation Is there something else going? Teen protest? Is this in her room or is it in the house at large where it inconveniences others? Analysis Contingent on analysis. See "My child uses reading as a weapon against me. It is his way of rebelling." Books Everywhere My child wants to just keep reading the same books in the same series Almost every child goes through phases like this. It is part of the over and over. process of reaffirming reading capability. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 90
    • Is it a single series or has it lasted for more than a year? Analysis Indulge their interest. Give Them Choice When we are reading together, my child starts getting figgity after a few It always takes a little while to fall into a reading routine which is minutes. equally comfortable for both the reader and the read to. Affirmation Are they not interested in the material being read? Is it that they simply are full of energy? Are they more interested in something else? Are they being distracted by something else going on? Is the material either too far above their reading level for them to follow, or too simple for them to be interested in? Are they comfortable/hungry/cold? Analysis If they are too energetic, shift your reading time to one when they have been more exercised. Reading Routines Address comfort issues/distractions. Quiet Places Variety is the Spice of See "They aren't interested in reading." Life My child will pick up and start lots of books but never seems to finish It takes a while for children to glean which types of books best hold them. their interest. Affirmation Is it something to do with the physical aspect of the book? Is their vision good? Is it to do with a lack of interest in the genre/subject/etc.? Analysis See "They aren't interested in reading." My child is very competitive and Children usually want to be adults. They want the freedom and the wants to keep moving up to read autonomy. They want to do what adults do. For some, they see what the big kids are reading but reading as something adults do and therefore it is a milestone to then gets frustrated because he be accomplished in their goal of becoming an adult. Their doesn't enjoy the books. aspiration outstrips their ability. Affirmation Variety is a critical component for early readers. They need material they can read up to as well as material that they can revert back to which is more familiar. Why are they pushing ahead? Is there an implied expectation on your part or are they being pressed at school? Is it a social status thing? Analysis Make sure to have books that they are interested in scattered about. Books Everywhere My child is really imaginative and gets nightmares from some of the Books are a great way to cultivate the power of the imagination but books he reads. sometimes that imagination can become overpwoering. Affirmation Is this a testament to the author's writing effectiveness or is the child's response some indicator of a real world issue? Is there a pattern to the nightmares? Is this general anxiety or is it sourced around a single phobia? Is this a passing developmental phase or is it more chronic? Analysis Variety is the Spice of See "I don't know where to get good recommendations." Life My child is very sensitive and becomes easily upset when bad Books are a great way to cultivate the power of empathy but things happen. sometimes that empathy can become overpowering. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 91
    • Is this a testament to the author's writing effectiveness or is the child's response some indicator of a real world issue? Is there a pattern to the concerns? Is this general anxiety or is it sourced around a single phobia? Is this a passing developmental phase or is it more chronic? Analysis Variety is the Spice of See "I don't know where to get good recommendations." Life Particularly as the enter their teens, children begin wanting to My child get's really agitated when I establish some distance and independence from their parents. It is interfere with what he is reading. a reasonably universal pattern of development. Affirmation How do you continue to demonstrate your engagedness with the importance of reading while giving them the lattitude and independence to be their own reader? Analysis See "My child wants to just keep reading the same books in the same series over and over." Give Them Choice See "My kids don't want me to see what they are reading." Give Them Choice It is to be expected that there will be variance between any two I find the books my child wants to readers and especially between an experienced reader and a read incredibly boring. novice reader. Affirmation Is it genre, subject or something else that they are interested in that you are not? Analysis Variety is the Spice of Use the library for sampling. Life Up until or ten there are plenty of cross-over books that are equally appealing to adults and children (Mark Twain, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Susan Cooper, Lewis Carroll, etc.) Seek Variety is the Spice of recommendations from librarians or ttmd.com Life When I try to talk about the books they have read, my children just give There are ebbs and flow in a child's effectiveness of me one word answers. communication and in their desire to communicate. Affirmation Is this an issue of just not wanting to talk about it, discomfort with the norms of conversation, a lull in engagement with books, tiredness, or lack of practice with discussing books? Analysis Switch to asking about books in the morning if that is when they are most alert. Talk a Lot Stop talking about books for a while and just focus on conversation. Talk a Lot Accomodating multiple children does complicate the reading time process, especially as they enter their middle single digit years. It I have two children to read to. I is tough to find texts that bridge the interests of a few years of age don't have time to read first to one difference and it becomes challenging to older children to endure and then the other. the needs of younger ones. Affirmation Is the issue one of schedules, age differences, differences in interests or differences in self-control? Analysis Double up on adult reading, one parent taking the younger ones and the other the older children. Read to Them Co-opt older siblings into reading to younger siblings. Read to Them Change schedules, morning reading for one and evening reading for the other. Read to Them © Through the Magic Door 92
    • I introduced my child to audio books and now that is all they want to listen Reading is definitely an intellectual and engaging activity. It is to. They don't want to read the book easier to listen. There is even less critical intellectual effort as well. involved in watching. Affirmation Is this a temporary/passing circumstance? What are the conditions under which they normally read that makes listening that much easier? Has this lasted more than six months? Analysis Maintain reading routines. They are likely to return to them. Reading Routines Make sure there are a variety of books at all levels scattered around. Books Everywhere See "They aren't interested in reading." Read to Them English is the second language at home and I don't know good English Second language reading and third culture kids present special language children's books. challenges. Affirmation How do you define good recommendations and good books? How and to what end do you use reviews? What are the characteristics of a good reccomendation for you? Analysis See "I don't know where to get good recommendations." Books Everywhere There is an etiquette of book reading and book handling that children only acquire with time and of which they are often not fully I can't use library books because my aware. Balance the importance of reading at all with the child is always tearing them up. importance of learning book ettiquette. Affirmation Is there something else going? Child protest? Is this recent or a continuing behavior? Analysis Discuss with librarians. Books Everywhere Contingent on analysis. See "My child uses reading as a weapon against me. It is his way of rebelling." Books Everywhere Teaching or even coaching reading is a skill that can be acquired I don't have a good sense for how but many people do not have the time or the resources available often to talk about what we are for that training. Simply talking, reading to them, and being seen reading while reading versus just reading are major steps that go along way towards predisposing a reading all the way through. child to quickly acquiring reading skills in school. Affirmation Every child has different proclivities. Some are intensely interested in the mechancis of reading and will plead to be shown how. Others are just as intensely interested in the flow of the story and have no interest in the mechanics. Analysis Accommodate each according to their desires. Read to Them Ask teachers what coaching techniques you might use that would be effective supplements to what is or will be covered in the classroom. Read to Them Pay attention to your own skills. If this is not an area in which you excel or if your efforts make the process uninteresting to your child, just read to them. Read to Them If it is one of the big chains this would be surprising. For Our local bookstore doesn't have independent stores though this is not an uncommon situation, anything my child would enjoy. particularly if they are a general bookstore. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 93
    • In what are they interested? Fiction/Non-fiction? Genre? Writing Style? Etc. The more detailed you can be in your descriptions, the more likely stores are to accommodate. Is the issue truly a one of your child's interests or is there an element of what you would want for them to be reading as well? Analysis Discuss with bookstore owner and see if there is an interest to change the offerings. Books Everywhere See :There is no bookstore near me" Books Everywhere Up to 60% of children (particuarly ages four to ten) suffer from motion sickness which is closely allied to car sickness while My child get's carsick when he reads reading. Even if they do suffer from it, it tappers off as children while we are driving. age. Affirmation Does seating arrangement make a difference (by the window versus in the middle)? Windows up or down? Just eaten or empty stomach? Analysis Have available adult read to them Read to Them Use audio books to keep them engaged with story telling. Read to Them See if an older sibling will volunteer to read to them. Read to Them Books take up too much room when we are travelling. It is easy for cars to fill up. Affirmation It is a matter of priorities and leveraging even small spaces. Analysis Consider audio books. Books Everywhere Plan ahead; try and identify books that are readable across an age range. Books Everywhere Most children have a fairly high level of narcissim. Patience, focus, familiarity with conversational norms are all acquired traits. The My kids don't have the patience to later they are introduced to these norms, the longer it tends to take sit around talking and telling stories. to acquire them. Affirmation Is this disengagement masking some other issue? Analysis Conversational engagement is highly contingent on interest. Start slowly with short conversations and build from there. Talk a Lot See "When we are reading together, my child starts getting figgity after a few minutes." Talk a Lot As soon as we sit down to read, someone calls. We are a connected world. Affirmation Is it critical to answer? More critical than the bond you are building? Analysis Manage the Ignore it. Environment This does happen. Watching movies is far less engaging or My child would much rather watch challenging than reading: it is easier. It is natural for children to the movie version than read the lean towards the easier task if they are not already accustomed to book. the pleasure of reading. Affirmation Are there issues of where and how they are reading? Is there a social aspect of shared viewing versus shared reading? Analysis When possible, limit movie viewing till children have already acquired the habit of reading. Read to Them Discuss books in comparison to the movies, what was left in what was left out, where one was more effective than the other. Talk a Lot My child doesn't see why reading is so important. Children lack perspective and the capacity to anticipate the future. Affirmation © Through the Magic Door 94
    • To what extent have they been exposed to the world of work, education, personal responsibility, etc.? Analysis Surround them with family and friends who are enthusiastic readers and let them speak to the beauty, desire and benefit of reading. Make it Personal Use To Read or Not To Read or some similar document that makes the utilitiarian case for reading. Celebrate Books It is never too late. Andrew Johnston, a former president, did not We didn't read to them when they become literate till his teens. The best readers in the world (by test were young and now it's too late to scores) are the Finns who do not start instruction on reading till change their habits. children are seven. Affirmation Which elements of Growing a Reading Culture are easiest to adopt first. Analysis Pick and choose which steps can have the biggest impact with the least effort. Try and introduce change slowly. Books Everywhere © Through the Magic Door 95
    • 1 To Read or Not To Read, pages 14-18, 20, and 84, US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics 2 CIA – The World Factbook United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008 3 Flesch, Rudolph. 1955. Why Johnny Can’t Read. Time March 14th, 1955 4 Early Language Acquisition. ITSI Research Briefs. 1 4 The Program for International Student Assessment (2007) 39 5 Skaliotis, M. (2002) Statistics in the Wake of Challenges Posed by Cultural Diversity in a Globalization Context, 4 6 Research Division Report #46, (2004) Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, National Endowment of the Arts, 4 Renaissance Learning, (2008) What Kids Are Reading: The Book Reading Habits of Students in American Schools. 7 Ennis, Phillip H. 1965. Adult Reading in the United States: A Preliminary Report. National Opinion Research Center Report, no. 105. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center. 8 To Read or Not To Read, pages 14-18, 20, and 84, US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics 9 Strommen, L.T., & Mates, B.F. (2004) Learning to Love Reading: Interviews with Older Children and Teens. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48, 3, 188-200 10 Himmelweit, H., &Swift, B. (1976) Continuities and Discontinuities in Media Usage and Taste: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 132-156 Karrass, J., Braungart-Rieker, J. & Cockburn, M., (2007) Effects of Shared Parent-Infant Book Reading on Early Language Acquisition. ITSI Research Briefs. 1 11 The Program for International Student Assessment (2007) 33 12 US Department of Education, Overview, 1-3 13 Gaskins, I.W., & Labbo, L.D. Diverse Perspectives on Helping Young Children Build Important Foundational Language and Print Skills, Reading Research Quarterly. 42 (3), 447 14 NCES, NAEP 2008 Trends in Academic Progress, (2008), 9, Figure 1 15 ibid 16 Bourdieu, P. (1977) Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. In J. Karabel & A. H. Halsey (eds) Power and Ideology in Education, New York: Oxford, 487-511 Lareau, A. (1989) Home Advantage :Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education. New York: Falmer Press. 17 Riley, J. (1996) The Teaching of Reading. London: Paul Chapman International Reading Association, (1998) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, The Reading Teacher. 52(2), 193-216. 18 Neuman, Susan B., (2007). Nurturing Knowledge, Canadian Language and Literacy Network, Calgary, Alberta. 19 Barton, P.E., & Coley, R.J. (2007) The Family: America’s Smallest School See also Appendix A 20 Gaskins, I.W., & Labbo, L.D. Diverse Perspectives on Helping Young Children Build Important Foundational Language and Print Skills, Reading Research Quarterly. 42 (3), 438-451 21 Neuman, Susan B., (2007). Nurturing Knowledge, Canadian Language and Literacy Network, Calgary, Alberta. 22 Adams, M. (1990) Beginning to Read. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 23 Hart, B., & Risley, T., (1995). Meaningful Differences. Baltimore, MD.: Brookes 24 The Program for International Student Assessment (2007) 32 Gay, G. (1988) Desigining Relevant Curricula For Diverse Learners, Education and Urban Society, 20(4), 327-340. International Reading Association, (1998) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, The Reading Teacher. 52(2), 193-216. © Through the Magic Door 96
    • 25 Boe, E.E., & Shin, S. (2005) Is the Unted States Really Losing the International Horse Race in Academic Achievement? The Phi Delta Kappan 9, 688-695 26 Barton, P.E., & Coley, R.J. (2007) The Family: America’s Smallest School 27 Bardot, L., Fawcett, R., Jones, J. (2006) International Education Comparisons 12 28 Bardot, L., Fawcett, R., Jones, J. (2006) International Education Comparisons 4 Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (2008) Academic Ranking of World Universities 29 30 Diplomas Count, June 11, 2009, Education Week 31 ibid 32 Juster, F.T., Ono, H., & Stafford, F.P. (2004) Changing Times of American Youth: 1981-2003, 11 33 ibid 34 Braunger, J. & Lewis, J.P. (1997) Building a Knowledge Base in Reading, 19-22 35 Senechal, M., & LeFevre, J. Parental Involvement in the Development of Children’s Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study, Child Development, 73(2) 445-460. 36 CIA – The World Factbook United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008 37 Digest of Education Statistics, 2008. Table 25. Expenditures of educational institutions related to the gross domestic product, by level of institution: Selected years, 1929–30 through 2007–08 38 NCES, Digest of Education Statistics, 2003. 39 Allington, R. & Cunningham, P. (1996) Schools that Work. New York: Harper Collins Sweet, A. (1993) State of the Art: Transforming Ideas for Teaching and Learning to Read. Washington, D.C.: US Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement. 40 Chi, M., & Koeske, R. (1966) Network Representation of a Child’s Dinosaur Knowledge. Developmental Psychology, 19. 29-39. Duke, N. (2000). 3.6 Minutes Per Day: The Scarcity of Informational Texts in First Grade. Reading Research Quarterly, 35. 202-224. Glaser, R. (1984). Education and Thinking: The Role of Knowledge. American Psychologist, 39. 93-104. 41 ibid 42 Liu, A., Ruiz, S. DeAngelo, L. & Pryor,J. (2009) Findings from the 2008 Administration of the College Senior Survey (CSS): National Aggregates, 78 43 Building a Knowledge Base in Reading by Jane Braunger and Jan Patricia Lewis, page 15 44 See Appendix A 45 US Dept. of Education Partnership for Reading Natl. Inst. For Literacy NCBLA Tacoma Public Library Reading is Fundamental Reading Rockets 4646 Bruner, J. (1975) The Ontogenesis of Speech Acts. Journal of Child Language. 3. 1-19 Cazden, D. (1988) Classroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Hart, B. , & Risley, T. (1995) Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Nino, A. (1980) Picturebook Reading in Mother-Infant Dyads Belonging to Two Subgroups in Israel. Child Development 51, 587-590. 47 Anderson, Richard C., E.H. Hiebert, J.A. Scott, and A.I.G. Wilkinson. 1985. Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Department of Education, National Institue of Education. Anderson, Richard C., P.T. Wilson, and L.G. Fielding. 1988. “Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School.” Reading Research Quarterly. 23: 285-303. Bus, A., Van Izendoorn, M., & Pelligrin, A. (1995). Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-Analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of Literacy. Review of Educational Research, Building a Knowledge Base in Reading by Jane Braunger and Jan Patricia Lewis, 33 © Through the Magic Door 97
    • Clark, Margaret M. 1976. Young Fluent Readers: What Can They Teach Us?. London: Heinemann Cohen, D. (1968) The Effects of Literature on Vocabulary and Reading Achievement, Elementary English 45, 209-217. Durkin, Dolores. 1966. Children Who Read Early. New York: Teachers College Press. Feitelson, D., Kita, B., &Goldstein, Z. (1986) Effects of Listening to Series Stories on First Graders Comprehension and Use of Language, Research in the Teaching of English, 20, 339-356. Heath, S.B. What No Bedtime Story Means. Language in Society. 11, 49-76. Holdaway, D. (1979) The Foundations of Literacy. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic Morrow, L.M., O’Connor, E., & Smith, J. (1990) Effects of a Story Reading Program on the Development of At-Risk Kindergarten Children. Journal of Reading Behavior. 20(2), 104-141. Morrow, L., & Weinstein C., (1982) Increasing Children’s Use of Literature Through Program and Physical Changes, Elementary School Journal 83, 131-137 Morrow, L., & Weinstein, C. (1986) Encouraging Voluntary Reading: The Impact of a Literature Program on Children;s Use of Library Centers, Reading Research Quarterly 21, 330-346. Purcell-Gates, V., McIntyre, E., Freppon, P. (1995) Learning Written Storybook Language in School: A Comparison of Low-SES Children in Skills-Based and Whole Language Classrooms. American Educational Research Journal. 32 (3), 659-685 Sulzby, E. (1985) Children’s Emergent Reading Favorite Storybooks. Reading Research Quarterly. 20, 458-481. Taylor, D. & Strickland, D. (1986) Family Storybook Reading, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Teale, W. (1978) Positive Environments for Learning to Read: What Studies of Early Readers Tell Us. Language Arts. 55, 922-932. Teale, W. (1982) Toward a Theory of How Children Learn to Read and Write Naturally. Language Arts. 59, 555-570. Wells, G. (1986) The Meaning Makers, Portsumouth, NH: Heinemann 48 Krashen, S., The Power of Reading. Morrow, L.M., (1982) Relationships Between Literature Programs, Library Corner Designs, and Children’s Use of Literature, Journal of Educational Research, 75, 330-344. Morrow, L.M., (1983) Home and School Correlates of Early Interest in Literature, The Journal of Educational Research. 76(4), 221-230. Neuman, S. (1986) The Home Environment and Fifth-grade Students’ Leisure Reading, Elementary School Journal 86, 335-343. McCracken, R., & McCracken, M., (1978) Modeling is the Key to Sustained Silent Reading, Reading Teacher, 31, 406-408. 49 Greaney, V., & Clarke, M. (1975) A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Two Reading Methods on Leisure-time Reading Habits. In Reading: What of the Future? Ed. D. Moyle. London, UK Reading Association 107-114. Ivey, G., & Broaddus, K. (2001), “Just Plain Reading”: A Survey of What Makes Students Want to Read in Middle School Classrooms, Reading Research Quarterly. 36 (4), 350-377. Krashen, S., (1988) Do We Learn by Reading? The Relationship Between Free Reading and Reading Ability. In Linguistics in context: Connecting observation and understanding, ed. D. Tannen. Norwood, NJ: Ablex 269-298. Neuman, S.B., (1986) Rethinking The Censorship Issue, The English Journal, 75(5), 46-50. 50 Braunger, J., & Lewis, J.P. Building a Knowledge Base in Reading, 32 Cleary, F. (1939) Why Children Read, Wilson Library Bulletin, 14, 119-126 Gaver, M. (1963) Effectiveness of Centralized Library Service in Elementary Schools, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press Greaney, V., & Hegarty, M. (1987) Correlations of Leisure Time Reading, Journal of Research in Reading. 10, 3-20. Houle, R., & Montmarquette, C. (1984) An Empirical Analysis of Loans by School Libraries, Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 30, 104-114. Ingham, J. (1981) Books and Reading Development: The Braford Book Flood Experiment, London: Heinemann Educational Books Krashen, S. (1985a) Inquiries and Insights Menlo Park, California: Alemay Press Lamme, L. (1976) Are Reading Habits and Abilities Related?, Reading Teacher, 30, 21-27 © Through the Magic Door 98
    • McQuillan, Jeff. 1998. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinneman Morrow, L.M., & Weinstein, C. (1982) Increasing Children’s Use of Literature Through Program and Physical Changes, Elementary School Journal, 83, 131-137. Morrow, L.M., (1983) Home and School Correlates of Early Interest in Literature, The Journal of Educational Research. 76(4), 221-230. Neuman, S. (1986) The Home Environment and Fifth-grade Students’ Leisure Reading, Elementary School Journal 86, 335-343. Neuman, S.B., & Celano, D. Put Books in Children’s Hands, The Reading Teacher 54(6), 550-557. International Reading Association, (1998) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, The Reading Teacher. 52(2), 193-216. Snow, C., Barnes, W., Chandler, J., Goodman, I., & Hemphill, H. (1991) Unfilled Expectations: Home and School Influences on Literacy, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press Tizzard, Barbara, and Martin Hughes. 1984. Young Children Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press To Read or Not To Read, pages 12 and 74, US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics Wells, Gordon. 1987. The Meaning Makers. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Wendelin, K., & Zinck, R.A. (1983) How Students Make Book Choices, Reading Horizons 23, 84-88 51 Bader, L., Veatch, J. & Eldridge, J. (1987) Trade Books or Basal Readers?, Reading Improvement 24, 62- 67. Dorrell, L., & Carroll, E. (1981) Spider-man at the Library, School Library Journal Hafner, L., Plamer, B. & Tullos, S. (1986) The Differential Reading Interests of Good and Poor Readers in the Ninth Grade, Reading Improvement 23, 39-42. International Reading Association, (1998) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, The Reading Teacher. 52(2), 193-216. Krashen, S. (1988) Do We Learn by Reading? The Relationship Between Free Reading and Reading Ability. In Linguistics in Context: Connecting Observation and Understanding, ed. D. Tannen, Norwood, NJ: Ablex 269-298. LaBrant, L. (1958) An Evaluation of Free Reading. In Research in the Three R’s, ed. C. Hunnicutt and W. Iverson. New York: Harper and Brothers, 154-161 Rice, E., (1986) The Everyday Activities of Adults: Implications for Prose Recall, Educational Gerontology 12, 173-186. Rucker, B. (1982) Magazines and Teenage Reading Skills: Two Controlled Field Experiements, Journalism Quarterly, 59, 28-33. Schoonover, R. (1938) The Case for Voluminous Reading, English Journal 27, 114-118. 52 International Reading Association, (1998) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, The Reading Teacher. 52(2), 207. 53 Bus, A., Van Izendoorn, M., & Pelligrin, A. (1995). Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-Analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of Literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65, 1-21 Cochran-Smith, Marilyn. 1984. The Making of a Reader. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Heath, Shirley Brice. 1983. Ways with Words Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press. Rosenthal, Nadine. 1995. Speaking of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann 54 Morrow, L.M., (1983) Home and School Correlates of Early Interest in Literature, The Journal of Educational Research. 76(4), 221-230. Morrow, L.M (1990) Preparing the Classroom Environment to Promote Literacy During Play. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 5 537-554. Neuman, S.B., & Roskos, K. (1997) Literacy Knowledge in Practice: Contexts of Participation for Young Writers and Readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 32, 10-32. 55 Chambers, Aidan. 1991. The Reading Environment: How Adults Help Children Enjoy Books. Stroud, England: Thimble Press. Greaney, V., & Hegarty, M. (1987) Correlations of Leisure Time Reading, Journal of Research in Reading. 10, 3-20. © Through the Magic Door 99
    • 56 Bus, A., Van Izendoorn, M., & Pelligrin, A. (1995). Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-Analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of Literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65, 1-21 Dickinson, D., & Smith, M. (1994) Long-Term Effects of Preschool Teachers’ Book Readings on Low- income Children’s Vocabulary and Story Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 29, 104-122. Seneschal, M., LeFevre, J., Thomas,E., & Daley, K. (1998) Differential Effects of Home Literacy Morrow, L.M., (1983) Home and School Correlates of Early Interest in Literature, The Journal of Educational Research. 76(4), 221-230. Experiences on the Development of Oral and Written Language. Reading Research Quarterly. 33, 96-116. 57 Hart, Betty and Todd R. Risley. 1996. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young AmericanChildren. Baltimore, MD: Brookes. Hart, Betty and Todd R. Risley. 2003. “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3.” American Educator. (Spring 2003). Available at http://www.aft.org/pubs- reports/american_educator/spring2003/catastrophe.html. 58 Anderson, Richard C., E.H. Hiebert, J.A. Scott, and A.I.G. Wilkinson. 1985. Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Department of Education, National Institue of Education. 59 K. Anders Ericsson, Expert Performance and Deliberate Practice, 2000. 60 Levitin, Daniel, J., This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession, 2006, Dutton, p. 193 61 Postlethwaite, T. and K.N. Ross. 1992. Effective schools in reading: Implications for educational planners. An exploratory study. The Hague: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. 62 Rathvon, Natalie. 2004. Early Reading Assessment: A Practitioner’s Handbook. New York: The Guildford Press. 16. 63 Postlethwaite, T. and K.N. Ross. 1992. Effective schools in reading: Implications for educational planners. An exploratory study. The Hague: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. 64 Papanastasiou, Constantinos Factors That Distinguish the Most from the Least Effective Schools in Reading: A Residual Approach 65 Berelson, Bernard. 1949. The Library’s Public: A Report of the Public Library Inquiry. New York: Columbia University Press 66 US Census. 2009. Table 1195. Expenditures Per Consumer Unit for Entertainment and Reading. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1195.xls#Data!A1 67 Book Industry Study Group. 1984. 1983 Consumer Research Study on Reading and Book Purchasing: Focus on Adults. New York: Market Facts. Hajda, Jan. 1964. An American Paradox: People and Books in the Metropolis. PhD Dissertation, University of Chicago. National Endowment for the Arts. 2004. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. Research Division Report #46. Washington, D.C. http://www.nea.gov/news/news04/ReadingAtRisk.html Zill, Nicholas and Marianne Winglee. 1990. Who Reads Literature? The Future of the United States as a Nation of Readers. Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press. 68 Saez, E. (2008) Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States, 6 69 Research Division Report #46, (2004) Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, National Endowment of the Arts, 4 Renaissance Learning, (2008) What Kids Are Reading: The Book Reading Habits of Students in American Schools. © Through the Magic Door 100