How To Build Lifelong Readers: My Story

My interest in motivating children to read comes from the joy I found in reading. As a child growing up in a world of adult drama, reading became a refuge and way of escape. Books transported me into neighborhoods, communities and worlds beyond my imagination. Reading helped me to dream big by exposing me to possibilities I would have never known through my limited surroundings. Reading also made me set lifelong goals for myself.

Reading made me smarter. It happened naturally as it increased my vocabulary and made me think while I was enjoying myself. The more I read, the smarter I became and the more I achieved academically and in life.

I was blessed to have been bused from my inner city neighborhood into a more upscale and economically advantaged community. There I entered into classrooms where independent reading was encouraged and I had access to great books. Most importantly, I was raised by a mom who was an avid reader. My mom made trips to the library a regular routine, allowing me to check out books of my choosing. Growing up my mom was my greatest Reading Role Model. She encouraged my love for reading, showing genuine interest in what I was reading by allowing me to talk her ear off about the adventures of my favorite character, Ramona, my namesake from the Beverly Cleary series.

I devoured everything I could get my hands on by Beverly Cleary when I was a child and the best gift you could give me was one of her books. However, my favorite children’s book will forever be Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. This book so impacted my life that I became a fourth grade teacher for many years.

My SuperFudge
The original copy of Superfudge Mr Gelfand gave to me. As you can see it’s been well-loved.

In fifth grade I missed several weeks of class due to hospitalization. I had experienced my first childhood asthma attack and I was frightened and miserable. Then one day Mr. Gelfand came to visit me and he brought me a gift. Superfudge by Judy Blume (Reading Promoter). It was then that he discovered that I had never read the first book in the series starring Peter and his pesky brother Fudge. He returned with Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing which was side-splitting funny and turned a miserable hospital experience into one of fun as I was able to have sustained, uninterrupted reading time. From then til now, Mr Gelfand was my favorite teacher. He introduced me to what remains my favorite children’s’ book.

Judy Blume literally captured my heart and attention as I wondered what Fudge was going to do next to totally disrupt Peter’s world. This book held appeal for me as I was a big sister with a two year old little brother who had interrupted my reign as the princess who got all the attention. But more importantly, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing holds universal appeal as all children can relate to the situations the characters find themselves in. In the 70’s there was not much emphasis on quality multi-cultural literature which I am a huge advocate and supporter of exposing children to reading. Thus, I have learned that the most important book to give a child is the one that the child enjoys and makes a personal connection with in some type of meaningful way.

Reading is both a cognitive and emotional journey. As a result of both my professional expertise and personal experience I can tell you without any reservation that there are certain strategic decision that parents must make to ensure their children become lifelong joyful readers who will ultimately become leaders in their chosen professions. I have discovered that the parent/teacher partnership has been the most powerful tool for ensuring student success. Therefore, I have spent my entire career working extensively with parents. I teach them how to ensure reading growth and the academic success of their children. We work together to help their children become intrinsically motivated and develop a passion for learning that extends well beyond the classroom. This blog is a continuation of my mission and a way to reach and support a greater number of parents so we can assure we have a literate future and improved society.

Think About It: What is your favorite book and what made it so appealing to you as a reader? How were you introduced to the book? Please share in the comment section. Apply your personal reflections to the work you are doing with your child and consider how you help him or her discover and fall in love with a great book.

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© 2015 by Metamorphosis Literacy.

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