The Children's Book Compass

Connecting Children and Books

Posted on: January 19, 2010

Today teachers need to bring children and books together as an antidote for the mind-numbing curriculum resulting from demands for higher test scores and mandated programs. The story of Lynn provides a vision how to connect a child with literature and improve her reading abilities. Lynn was a 6th grader who began the year reading at a first grade level. She had recently emigrated from Viet Nam and was still transitioning to English. By the end of that year she was reading novels appropriate for her grade and experiences. One day, I passed her desk as she finished a novel she looked at me with her expressive, brown eyes and said, “It touched my heart.” Because she had been listening to and reading books that touched her heart throughout that year, she had become a proficient, fluent reader. Those heart-touching books provided her a goal to work towards and demonstrated that books were an essential part of life. When children are immersed in a rich literate environment they are motivated to acquire the tools of literacy because they have discovered that books bring pleasure and enlightenment. Without such opportunities, literacy becomes a hollow skill and for some, never acquired. From the first days of school, children need to listen to books read aloud and have time to immerse themselves in literature. They need to have access to a variety of books that match their interests: books that touch their hearts, tickle their funny bones, set them dreaming or expand their vistas. Such experiences propel children into a life enriched by reading. After they have discovered the power of reading, they can be guided through an instructional process that demonstrates how books are models of reading and writing. Attracting children to experiences with literature isn’t the exclusive purview of the early grades, the fires need to be stoked throughout the child’s school career. Teachers who read aloud daily, providing time to read as well as an environment that promotes reading and writing, make it possible for children to become accomplished literate citizens who turn to reading for pleasure and information.

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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