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Developing Lifelong Readers.

The end of August is coming fast I really don’t know where the summer has gone. For me since I was in education for many years, with the last thirteen being a principal, the beginning of August always signified that summer was almost over, fall was headed my way and a big change was looming in my life. As a principal, in August, I always started to get the school ready for the return of the teachers, then students and then opening day of school.

This year, even though I no longer run a school I see and hear a big difference for all of us. The big questions are: When is school going to start? How is it going to start? How do we keep everyone, students and teachers, safe from Covid and what are the results after it starts?

With all of these questions and changes I certainly hope we keep in mind the importance of teaching reading in a manner that will help our children to become fluent readers. Our main goal both in the home and school should be to design our children’s reading time (instruction if you prefer this word) around the actual reading process not wasting their time on too many drills, reading skills and work sheets.

Teaching children to read is much like teaching them to ski or ride a horse. The more they ski the better skier they become. The more they ride a horse the better they become at riding. Now I agree they need a little work on their form or how best to turn the horse or skis. The key word is a LITTLE BIT OR WHEN NEEDED.

The emphasis when teaching reading, needs to come off skills, phonics, work sheets and tests and focus on developing actual reading activities. Children need time to independently read and to make choices as to which trade book to enjoy. Cyndi Giorgis states in her edited version of Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition Revised Edition, by third grade the time spent reading independently can be the child’s most important vocabulary builder. I will add I believe more effective than working through vocabulary list/lessons. Reading is a skill and the more you use it, the better you get at it.

I first met Jim Trelease, author of Read-Aloud Handbook, in the early 1980s at a conference

in Boise, Idaho. I was so impressed with the information he gave us and his book, that I attended another conference a few years later and I have purchased all 7 editions of his handbook. I have used these books extensively though out my career in education. Reading, re-reading and quoting him often. Each book has 2 parts. The first part of the book is full of information about the importance of Reading Aloud and the second part is recommending Read Aloud books for different ages and different interests. His eighth edition came out edited by Cyndi Giorgis. She has also added new books in the Treasury of Recommended Read Aloud portion. I highly recommend this book to all all adults who are interested in helping all children to become fluent life long readers.

Cyndi mentions another book “THE POWER OF READING INSIGHTS FROM THE RESEARCH 2nd edition” by. Stephen D. Krashen. This book looks at different studies that also show the importance of reading (aloud and independently).

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),has for decades helped its thirty-four member governments monitor school achievement worldwide. In 2002 they issued a report in which they examined the reading literacy of 250,000 fifteen year olds in thirty-two countries. In every country,(regardless of income level). those who read the most, read the best.

The International Association for the evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) compared the reading skills of 210,000 students from thirty-two different countries. A decade later they found similar results. The highest scores (regardless of income level) among children who were read to by their teachers and who read the most pages for pleasure daily.

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) is also known as Drop Everything And Read (DEAR), Daily Individual Reading Time (DIRT), Sustained Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time (SQUIRT) and Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) to name a few of them. The SSR reading time is designed to motivate students to read independently. It is important that they have time to read independently and silently and they can choose the material they read. It is also important for them to talk about the book they are reading. I am not referring to book reports or questions, I am referring to maybe just turn to someone, at the end of the independent reading time, tell someone about what they have just read and if they liked the book. At home this reading time is generally known as independent reading. Remember, it is important to make time during the school day and/or at home because they learn best by the actually reading process.

Let’s all develop a goal of at least 15 minutes a day (no matter their age) to Read Aloud to our children, grandchildren and in my case great grandchildren and to develop more independent reading time for them to read silently.

Notes about Author:

Jylene Morgan is a retired educator. She is passionate about the importance of reading aloud

to children from top quality children’s books. Writing about her life experiences she captivates her audience by telling the tales of her family’s adventures. The first several books are written about funny exchanges that occur when human and wild animal’s lives come together.

To read more about me, my passion for reading aloud to children and my books go to Make sure you join our mailing list so you can be the first to know when Jylene's next book, BUMMER and the Nanny Goat, is available.


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