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20 Minutes of Reading a Day: 18 Tips to Make It a Habit, Not a Chore

One of the most popular forms of homework is usually some version of a weekly reading log, where students read for at least 20 minutes each day. As a former classroom teacher turned school librarian/reading specialist, I have mixed feelings about this assignment.

Let’s be happy whenever students are encouraged to read, especially if the alternative is a worksheet.

This is the type of assignment that could go a long way toward making reading a daily habit, if both the teacher and parents frame it in a way that makes it seem less like an assignment and more like a gift.

But when parents (and teachers!) fall into certain “reading log traps,” they may be causing more harm than good when it comes to nurturing a lifelong reading habit.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Required Reading Minutes/Reading Logs

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Where to Get Book Recommendations Your Child Will Love

Our most recent posts have encouraged families to allow their child to choose their own reading material and to reflect thoughtfully on how books impact childrens’ (and adults’) lives. But where to turn when you’ve read the last page of a recent favorite, or finally finished that series you started 6 months ago? (I call this having a book hangover and the only cure is a new favorite!) Or maybe you’re still searching for that one book that is sure to hook them to love reading long-term.

Here are some fool-proof resources for great children’s book recommendations… some for when you have loads of time to browse with your child and a few that take only a few seconds!

Helpful Sources for Children’s Book Recommendations

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The Impact of a Book

Photo courtesy of Jorge Mendez Blake’s website.

I let out a long, slow breath the first time pictures of Jorge Mendez Blake’s work The Castle appeared in my Facebook feed. I don’t pretend to connect or understand art easily. But this? This I understood. Maybe it’s because without even zooming in on the title of the book (The Castle by Franz Kafka), I was already picturing how this wall represented the reading lives of our children.

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Why You Need to Let Children Choose Their Own Books

On the last day of our summer vacation, I told my kids they could each pick out a souvenir from the national park gift shop. They chose the $7 grab bag of fake gemstones. Literally something we could buy at our local dollar store, and had no significance to the place we’d been. I was sure the stones would end up at the bottom of our toy bin. I cringed while I made the purchase and handed over the tiny drawstring bags to their eager hands. Read More

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Book Review: Front Desk by Kelly Yang

One of the ways we hope Raising Real Readers can help busy parents and caregivers is by keeping an eye out for the latest books that will soon be on all the must-read lists. Very few people have time to keep up with books lists and release dates! Front Desk by Kelly Yang is a great example of a new book with lots of buzz, but even better, it provides an accessible starting point for conversations with your elementary school child about timely, difficult topics. You can see our other book recommendations here.

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Book Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I think some of the most exciting work happening in children’s literature is found in the Young Adult niche. A couple of my most favorite reads from the past year are young adult books. They are stories that dig deep into the human spirit. Plus, I love that they typically read a bit quicker than many books geared toward adults–perfect for summer days when you’ve got one eye on the kids in the pool and one eye devouring your book. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is just such a book.

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The Cost of Classroom Libraries: A Teacher’s Dowry (and How You Can Help)

Teachers and their struggle for fair compensation have finally been making headlines. Stories long known in education circles are being heard by the broader public: teachers with second and third jobs to make ends meet, lack of upkeep with inflation, and out-of-pocket expenses for supplies.

A dark, hidden secret that still hasn’t had its moment in the spotlight: in most public schools, classroom libraries are almost always funded by teachers themselves. These vital tools for teaching children literacy skills and a love of reading are basically charitable donations made by already underpaid employees.

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What To Do When When Your Child Is Skipping Words While Reading

Any parent or caregiver who has endured those early months and years of children reading aloud know how much patience it requires. And often, we feel ill equipped to help our children when we notice a recurring problem. Skipping words ranks high on my list of head scratching issues during this phase, so I love this simple guide to navigating such a common problem from Renee. -Nicole

Skipping words (or omitting as it’s called in teacher-speak) is a common reading behavior you may notice when your child reads to you. As a Title I Reading Interventionist, it’s probably the most common error I see, and chances are you do it too! It’s an issue that typically falls into two categories: skipping small words and skipping critical words.

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Productive Struggle: What It Is and Why Your Child Needs It

 

When I read Renee’s first draft of this post about productive struggle, I had just come home from the children’s triathlon in my town. At the event, I thought to myself, “All the people who think kids these days are lazy should come to this,” because all the triathletes, regardless of skill or athletic ability, show incredible perseverance. One child was even rescued by lifeguards and then still went on to finish the bike and run portion of the race. C’mon…how many adults do you know who would keep going under those circumstances? It was a visible reminder of the entire point of this post:

Kids usually rise to the challenge when we adults give them the space, encouragement, and opportunity to do so.

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Location, Location, Location

We’ve all heard this expression before. And while it usually conjures images of homes in just the right spot, the idea can easily be transferred to the reading life you and your family create.

In the same way that homes can increase or decrease in value because of their location, switching up the places you keep books can make reading more appealing or feel special.

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