I have been thinking a lot about reading lately, and how it figures into our homeschooling routing, and our lives. When I think of adults that I have met, they can be classified fairly cleanly into readers and non-readers. It is not an absolute division, of course, but I find that people either love to read and do it as often as they can, or rarely read at all - not much of a middle ground. Going on the assumption, then, that the goal is (as mine is) to raise kids who become adults who read, both for educational value and entertainment.....the question becomes how?
For us it has meant a fairly relaxed approach to teaching the boys to read. We began exploring phonics when William was about 5 years old, using Explode The Code. I had actually shied away from a reading 'curriculum' for as long as I could, but he was having a hard time making the leap from recognizing letters to putting the sounds together. We used Explode The Code for a short while until he got the hang of things, and then put it aside. We were all thrilled to make the move to 'real' books, and things are moving along well now.
William reads to us all every night before bed, and sometimes a time or two during the day as well. But mostly, our reading is still my reading aloud to the boys. To me, this is the part that will more likely turn them into adult readers. I am less concerned that they can read well on their own at this stage as I am that they continue to love books. I have faith that their own skills will come so long as the love of reading is kept alive.
Over the last year or so, we have all been enjoying the Harry Potter series (with a few words changed now and then in the later books, which get a little dark). About two weeks ago we began Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech, and after finishing it last night William has headed to the shelf to pick the next chapter book. I am happy to oblige. At 7 years old, his interests far surpass his reading abilities. The chapter books which allow us all to really delve into a story, to immerse ourselves in it over time, to curl up in front of the fire together for a whole morning of reading, are still beyond what he can read on his own without frustration. William is getting to be a better reader each day, and Charlie, at 5 years old, is ready to start his journey. They are not skilled readers yet, but they are certainly book lovers - just as I have hoped they will be.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991