Take reading to a whole other level
Our son has been staying up late these days, but it’s for the best possible reason: he’s reading one chapter book a night.
I’ve always felt strongly about raising readers. I’ve loved to read since I learned how, but my husband struggled with reading as a child and now that no one’s forcing him to read, he won’t touch a book unless it’s to read to our son and daughter.
As we read to them as babies, I’d wondered if they’d take after him or me. Would they only read what they needed to read for school — and complain about it —or would they devour books in their free time and always want more?
Reading has always been part of our nightly routine and they certainly enjoy it. We would read to them before they could read, and we started taking turns reading once each of them learned how. Then, after prayers and tuck-ins, they have always been allowed to quietly read for awhile until they go to sleep.
It has only been this past school year that our son has taken it to a new level. He’s outgrown the Easy Readers (which our daughter is now slowly picking her way through) and traded Berenstain Bears for chapter books. His favourite series is called Magic Tree House, and he’ll snuggle up in bed to read all 110 pages before he goes to sleep.
Because he’s reading a book a night, we’ve been making lots of trips to the library to stock up on more. I don’t care how busy or tired I am — if he’s out of books, we will find time to drive down so he has a new one to read that night. Must. Not. Discourage. Reading. Obsession.
During one of these visits, both kids signed up for something called the TD Summer Reading Club. They hadn’t done a summer reading program before, but a few library employees visited their school and apparently had an excellent sales pitch because the kids insisted on going that very day.
The idea is simple: the kids log everything they read (the book title and the amount of time they spent reading) either in a paper booklet or directly in their online account. (If kids don’t have computer access, they can take their booklet to a librarian to enter their stats into their account.) The time they spend reading is converted to points which can be redeemed for cool upgrades on virtual robots they have on their accounts. There are prizes, too, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet.
I don’t know if it’s the competitive aspect or that they’re excited to make their robots cooler, but both kids have been obsessed with reading as much as possible so they can add to their log. The first day we got home, we sat on the couch together for over an hour as they took turns reading aloud. There were actual arguments over who got to read more!
Now, whenever I wake up, I’m bombarded with requests to please add the books they read after I tucked them in the night before. We had to compromise that they would write down the titles in their booklets, and I would log into the parent portal every few days to update their logs digitally.
Our kids are reading more than ever before, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I only wish I’d been part of a summer reading program when I was a kid, because I would have nailed that thing with all the Babysitter’s
Club books I used to plow through.
The TD Summer Reading
Club is Canada’s biggest, bilingual summer reading program for kids of all ages and is offered at more than 2,000 public libraries across Canada. Visit tdsummerreadingclub.ca to learn more.
Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at www.heathershandmadelife.com.
Reading programs are aplenty this summer at local libraries across Nova Scotia.