Take read­ing to a whole other level

South Shore Breaker - - AUTO - HEATHER LAURA CLARKE THE MOM SCENE heather­lau­r­aclarke@gmail.com

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.

Heather Laura Clarke

Read­ing pro­grams are aplenty this sum­mer at lo­cal li­braries across Nova Sco­tia.

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