It’s been about six months since we launched Raising Real Readers, although it was a dream of ours for years before we ever hit “publish” on that first post. Since June, you have filled our comments, social media channels, and even email inboxes with questions, concerns, fears, and excitement about your child’s reading habits. We are enormously grateful that you have allowed us into your home to be a small part of your family’s reading routine.
When I was 17, my parents took me to New York City on spring break. We splurged on a Broadway show and saw Ragtime, a musical centered around racial injustice in America in the early 20th century. Never before had my eyes been so open to the mistreatment and brutality directed at people of color. The fact that I hadn’t considered this until my late teens is the very definition of white privilege.
And it’s exactly why books like Angie Thomas’ best-selling, award-winning The Hate U Give are so important. For people of color, this book is an important moment of representation, a chance to see their lived experience in print and on movie screens. For readers like me, who grew up in an upper middle class, mostly white suburb, it is a glimpse into the life of a black teenager living in an impoverished neighborhood. We cannot begin to dismantle systemic white supremacy until we recognize and acknowledge the effects of generations of discrimination, oppression, and violence. This book is just such an opportunity to educate ourselves.
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
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.
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