So You’re Worried Your Kid Might Not Love (or even like?!) Reading

You’ve heard it all before.  Plenty of people have written articles and blog posts about how to guarantee that your child loves reading.  But can you REALLY guarantee it?


I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read.

I am the youngest of four children.  Three of us spent many happy childhood hours with our noses in a book.  The fourth sibling utterly surprised me when he showed up at our parents’ house as an adult with a book under his arm.  Several years post-college and working a job that required weekly cross-country travel to job sites, he said he didn’t have much else to do while he was in transit.  “It’s actually not so bad,” he sheepishly admitted.

I hardly think my family was unique, so I find it difficult to believe that there can be a guaranteed way to raise a child who loves reading.  I think everyone can enjoy reading a just-right book, but not everyone will want to spend hours of their free time curled up with a book.

So, if you can’t guarantee that your child will love to read, what can you at least do to encourage a positive attitude toward reading?  Continue reading


8 Authors Every Early Elementary Child Should Read

I love books.  In fact, I obsess over them at times.  We’re 38 days into the new year, and I’ve already read 30 books (not counting kids’ books).  It may be a disease.


Pookie reads part of my favorite Winnie the Pooh story.

Be that as it may, this love of books has led me to spend a LOT of time reading to my children.  A while back (a long while–I’ve spent most of my free time reading in the past few months), I posted a list of must-read books for the under-six set; I thought it was finally time for my next installment.  After much pondering, I settled on eight authors who have written one or more truly wonderful books for kids in the early elementary years, roughly ages 6-8.  I referenced my favorites of their books, and I’ve separated these into picture books and chapter books, with stories getting progressively longer/more difficult in each category.  Enjoy! Continue reading

20 books (by 11 authors) that you should read to your child before they turn six

About a year ago, I was looking at book lists for ideas of read-alouds.  As I was looking through lists for grades we’ve passed, it left me wondering what I would put on a must-read list.  Since that time, I’ve done a lot of pondering.  Here’s the first installment of my must-read lists–the preschool version–complete with 20 books by 11 authors divided into 0-2 and 3-5 age categories.

Continue reading

10 Book Series for Your Fairy-Loving Kid

fairybooksHave a fairy-loving kid on your hands?  Since I have spent several months of near-constant scrambling, trying to find things my daughter would enjoy reading, I figured I’d log what I found in the hope that it helps someone else.  I found five fairy-themed chapter book series and four series that involved enough magic to make up for the lack of fairies.  These range from late-second to fourth grade reading level and include occasional pictures, since my visual kid loves illustrations.  Several of them also feature a nice, big font, for those intimidated by small, crowded type. Continue reading

DIY Vision Therapy: 12 Exercises You Can Do At Home

If you read my last blog post, you know that we found out that our youngest needed vision therapy, but the price tag was beyond what we could afford.  Immediately after that revelation, I took my kids to gymnastics, where a former-OT friend informed me that she had been given a whole binder full of vision therapy exercises during her time working in a low-income school in South Africa.

We’ve now been doing vision exercises about 3-4 times a week for 9 weeks, and little Pookie has gone from only sounding out single, large words written in magnets or on the white board to eagerly reading Biscuit books for bedtime.  (In case you missed the last post, he’s been able to sound out single words in this manner for more than a year, but he just wasn’t making any progress.)  While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, I figured it can’t hurt to share some of what we’ve done with other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation. Continue reading

DIY Vision Therapy: It Is Possible!

When Pookie was three-and-a-half, he started putting letters together to make words.  Though I was surprised–he still only recognized less than half of the alphabet–I hauled out my early-reading materials and prepared for him to progress. Only he didn’t.  At first I assumed it was a readiness issue; he was very young, after all, and though his siblings also learned to read young, perhaps the fact that he couldn’t remember all of his letters was holding him back.  But after a full year with no progress, I began to wonder if there was more going on.  After all, ‘Love’s childhood medical records indicated that he had received vision therapy for tracking issues.

After receiving several recommendations for a particular optometrist, I called and made an appointment.  I had been warned that it would be pricey, but $250 (sans vision insurance) for a 75-minute-long, in-depth assessment that included a retinal scan didn’t seem too shocking.  The first appointment confirmed my suspicion–there were a few issues that deserved more attention.  A second appointment (another $350) involved another hour of interactive assessments for my little guy while I was provided with information on vision therapy and was told to expect a price tag of $3-4,000 for six months of treatment.  At the hour-long follow-up appointment (included in the cost, thankfully), the optometrist gave us a report on the testing that had been done and how our son had performed.  It was very thorough and helpful, and most of what she said made a lot of sense with what I had observed.

Then came the bombshell: the cost was going to be $6,400 for 34 weekly, 45-minute therapy appointments (plus one or two additional progress assessments).  Reeling from the unexpected price hike, ‘Love and I walked out with heavy hearts.  We had been braced to pay $500 a month for treatment we thought would have long-term benefits for our son; this amount would have been a stretch, but it was attainable.  Finding an extra $750 a month, however, was simply out of the question.  But how could we walk away from something that would help our child succeed in life? Continue reading

the domino effect of reading

Through the years, I can’t count the number of times when “I read it somewhere” was the only answer I had to give others who wondered where I’d learned things.

Though I’m not sure exactly when it began, somewhere during elementary school I became a voracious reader.  At one point I remember being frustrated with our town library because I had read any chapter books in the kids’ section that I found remotely interesting (that being a majority of them), and there was nothing new to read.  So the notion of soaking up information through books is nothing new to me.

And yet, sometimes I am still surprised at the ways in which reading connects to other areas of learning. I was reminded yet again this week of the truly interconnected nature of skill-development.

After hovering forever around the A to Z Mysteries and Boxcar Children level of books (for something like a year!), Peatie has FINALLY increased the difficulty/reading level in what he selects to read during his evening free-reading time, and I’m in my glory.  Why?  There are lots of reasons to rejoice, but here are a few:

A) Because he’s as excited about reading these books as he was about the first A to Z and Boxcar books.  (After the first few, it seemed like he read more of the same just because of momentum.)  He now comes dancing out of his room every evening to report on the latest happenings at Castle Glower.

B) Because he also pokes his head out every evening to ask me a vocab word or two.  He now knows about crenelations and retorts and griffins and privy chambers and any number of other glorious words.  Have I mentioned how much I love words?

C) Because he’s incorporating the tone and vocabulary of the book into his conversation at times, which I think is awesome.  The other night he was reporting in on the relative ages of the various characters when he informed me (with a smug smirk), “I don’t know Bran’s age, but I do know one thing for certain–he’s a wizard!”  The deliberate pace, the turn of phrase, and the pregnant pause were perfect, and he knew it.

D) Because even his writing is improving.  The story he started today sounded vastly more interesting and stylistically mature than what he’s written in the past.

A story he wrote a month ago started like this: “One time a bear lived in a tree. His name was Zub. He loved being up the tree, but suddenly Zub saw a hunter trying to get him! The hunter started racing up the tall tree. Zub raced into the high branches.”

His latest story begins, “The wonders of the different worlds spread across the worlds fast. Heartland (a world) had many towns, and one of them was Size (Named because it was HUGE)! In the town of Size the houses are small, and they have many stairs. In Rattle the Rat’s house the shows on TV were always watched on the 2594th floor.  (Now we can’t go over what all his house was like, because it has 10000 levels.) So he was watching a show when he heard a sound.”

Earth-shatteringly brilliant writing?  No, but in my opinion there’s definitely noticeable improvement, and I’m excited for him.  (And for myself.  His stories before were all rather formulaic, insanely improbable, and hard to follow–and I had to read them all.)

All these delightful effects (and more that I haven’t noticed, I’m sure!) come because he’s now read a couple more challenging books.

Isn’t it fun to watch your kids learn and grow, making connections and getting excited about new information and improving their skills!?  I can’t wait to see what he learns next!  I love this job!  (Well, most of the time…)

**In case you’re wondering, he’s currently working through Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle series.