Reading Season by Renee Bowman
Our household is busier than ever right now for one simple reason: basketball. Basketball is the only sport my kids love. Collectively, my kids play on three teams, we coach a team, and we help coordinate an entire league. Basketball season means several things: rushed dinners, late bedtimes, more showers, extra laundry, and added costs. For your family, maybe it’s soccer. Or swimming. Or 4-H. Or show choir. The point is, we all have busy seasons in life.
It also means a lot of smiles, exercise, high-fives, growth, and fun. We’ve all met new people and made friends as a result of our involvement with the sport. We play theme songs from Rocky and Hoosiers on weekend mornings and sing “We Will Rock You” on the way to the games. We talk about plays at the dinner table. We text family and friends updates. It feels special and exciting.
So, when is reading season?
We spend extra money on registrations, tournaments, and gear during basketball season without second guessing it. Would we be willing to spend the same amount of money on books?
We make time for year-round practice in anticipation of the season, both individually and as a family. Do we read individually? As a family?
We seek coaches that are encouraging, thoughtful, and knowledgeable in order to help develop skills. Do we search for these same values when reading with our children? If our children are struggling, do we find outside coaches or tutors or make the time to schedule a meeting with the teacher to help our child address deficits and set realistic goals for improvement? Do we get to know our public librarians?
We invite family members to watch games. Do we invite family members to snuggle up on the couch and read to or listen to our children read?
We congratulate and celebrate progress and wins. Do we make time to praise our children when they finish a book? A series?
We thank our coaches for all the effort they pour into the success and growth of our children. Do we regularly thank the team of educators and librarians working to make sure our children are reading?
We encourage their interests by putting up posters in their rooms of favorite athletes and musicians and treat them as heroes. Do we celebrate their favorite book characters, series, and authors in a similar way?
We splurge on tickets to professional games or concerts, or dinners or ice cream to celebrate wins. But we bemoan the cost of the Scholastic Book Fair or we avoid the library for fear of overdue fees.
The chances of our children continuing a career in any sport is about as likely as predicting a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. The chances that our children continue to need reading proficiency to be successful, happy adults? 100%.
The research (and our gut) tell us that time and choice are the best predictors of successful readers. Please consider treating reading habits like you would a sport. Devote time to making reading fun in your home by allowing your child to choose reading material that excites and motivates. Allocate time for it, even when you’re busy. Prioritize it like you would a treasured hobby, and it just may become one.
Yours in Reading (and Basketball),
School Librarian, Title I Teacher, and Volunteer Youth Basketball Coach
Renee Bowman is a former classroom teacher and reading specialist turned school librarian, mom of two, and one-half of the blog Raising Real Readers. You can connect with her @raisingreal on Twitter and @RaisingRealReaders on Instagram and Facebook.