Time to celebrate! A year ago today, I released an image I created with my daughter. I'd been following folks like Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller and Jess Keating and other smart people who were talking about supporting kids' choices in reading and not boxing them in with levels- high, low, or otherwise.
My then nine year old daughter Isla and I got to talking. She mentioned how frustrating it was when she wanted to read something and was told it was too easy for her. Worse, she told me about kids who had a sincere interest in a book a bit more complex and were told to stay in a certain box- literally...a box! She described their faces and it broke my heart. Isla and I decided to work together on an image that looks at reading levels in a different way. It was the start of an interesting journey.
A few thoughts...
We parents play a role in this. I can't count how often parents brag about the length of the books their kids are reading. They talk about how early their kid started reading, how quickly they read, how young they were when their kid read Harry Potter (I hear this one a LOT).
So it's no wonder how often kids one-up each other about reading too- How many times they've read a certain book, how long it is, how quickly they finished a series, how they could never read something as “easy” as this or that (which may be the book their friend is quickly hiding in their backpack out of embarrassment)
Parents often tell me their kid is a good reader. But if we say there is such a thing as a GOOD reader, we are saying there is such a thing as a BAD one.
If there is a STRONG reader, there is a WEAK one.
Weak? Bad? Is that what we really mean? If we say that in the presence of a kid who isn't reading similar books- what do THEY take from that? How does that make them feel about reading?
Reading is not a competition.
Books are not currency.
I am proud of my kids, not because they are good or strong readers, but because they love to read. So maybe, as I think about it, it's not pride as much as I think it's great that right now, with who they are in their development, they enjoy reading. I think that's a really good thing to like to do. What more can I say?
So I'm delighted when they read...BOOKS...of any length, nature, complexity, genre..
There are so many aspects of reading that are beneficial beyond just length or big words:
Parents can take pride in their kid reading and understanding the essence of a book like FERDINAND.
Parents can relish their kids exploring a subject they're interested in by reading a BIG book or a SMALL book.
Parents can take joy in their kid reading and being emotionally affected by a book like REAL FRIENDS.
Parents can enjoy that their kid reads a book over and over because they LOVE it.
Parents can delight in their kid reading a challenging book, struggling, finding parts to connect with because they like the SUBJECT.
So much is curated for children- their choices made or limited by adults: food, fashion, education, friendships, activities. The act of raising a child is raising a future adult who can respond to limitations. Why must that include books?
As parents, we have a special role in specifically supporting kids' choices of books. When a kid goes to a bookstore or a library and picks out something thick or thin, silly or serious, prose or graphic novel...Why should parents care? It's not about us.
As the parent of a 14 and 10 year old, I'd also implore parents to remember that things change...so fast. Kids, and what kids are interested in reading, will change and evolve- on their own, without any tinkering on our part. Kids aren't static so don't label who they are as readers when they're just starting to explore a lifetime of books.
I hope you'll enter my giveaway, but more- I hope you'll watch your kids with great joy as you find out what reading level they are- Is your kid an ottoman? Sofa? Floor? Windowsill?
I'm a sofa myself.
Oh, and if you don't win the giveaway, you can find prints and such here: https://elviswestward.bigcartel.com/