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A reading shift has taken place at our home.
From her diaper days to age 5, we’ve read three picture books to our daughter Hope each night. While picture books still enchant, bedtime now finds Hope asking “can I have the next chapter?” from chapter books with lots of text and an occasional illustration every ten pages or so.
The transition has left this mama a little misty-eyed.
- Children’s listening comprehension matures faster than their reading comprehension (the two converge around the eighth grade)
- When we read books to kids that are too difficult for them to read themselves, they can not only understand and enjoy the experience, but also feel greater motivation to read on their own.
There’s just one little thing that’s bothering me.
- Night 1: Hope cuddled next to me, listening intently and staring at the book out of story-time habit, interested in the story and eager for the random illustration.
- Night 2: Hope sat near me, not touching, but listening intently. She stopped looking at the book unless I said, “picture!”
- Night 3: Hope snuggled under a blanket at the far end of the couch, hanging on my words but not on me. (Sniffle. Cue violins.)
Yup, there’s the rub. This “nothing to see here” distancing factor with chapter books leaves me a little sad!
Still, reading these books as a family offers a different kind of fun. We gather each night to hear how Kaylee and Jazz are making their way through Bear Canyon, braving the elements to save an uncle injured in a helicopter crash. We all think the story is exciting, and we’ve all learned some new facts (about helicopter operations, caves, and grizzly bears).
We pause along the way to tackle challenging key vocabulary words in the story. (Hope is now fascinated with the term “Mayday!”) Yet we’re learning it’s OK to read some of the hard passages without stopping unless Hope asks for clarification, watching her glean the overall logic of the narrative.
It’s also fun seeing Hope experience that “I wish I could stay awake for one more chapter” feeling and the “I can’t wait to get back to my book” feeling. These are exactly the kinds of feelings that can motivate young readers.
Bottom line, she’s engaged and challenged and I’m proud of her. But I’m secretly glad she still wants to get lost in picture books, too, at least for a little while longer. We’ve got to snuggle close together for those.