September 07, 2018

Mini Musings - Take Time to Read

by Mary Kimball, Lower School Director

One of the largest ever international studies of reading found that the single most important predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading. So, let’s ALL read together!

Each year lower school celebrates reading through our annual reading initiative. What is the goal of this program? For every child to become a skilled, passionate, habitual, critical reader--as novelist Robertson Davies puts it, to learn to make reading a “personal art.”

Children read in order to become smarter about the world and how it works. They read to broaden their vocabularies and to become better readers---faster and more fluent, purposeful, engaged, critical, and satisfied. They read to stretch their imaginations, to escape to other lives, time, and places. And they read to become good people--knowledgeable about and compassionate toward the range of human experience.

This year’s theme, "Take Time to Read,” is designed to encourage readers of all ages to make time to enjoy reading. Each grade level is designing how they want to promote independent reading with their students. Goals are set and classes earn “tokens” to fill the hourglass that will be displayed outside the Library. Visually, classes will be able to see how much time they spend reading. Take Time to Read reinforces our shared identity as a community of readers and thinkers, and rewards kids intrinsically for reading. The delights are intrinsic, always: “This week I got to experience a whole world with characters I loved; inside me I traveled, wondered, worried, laughed, cried, raged, triumphed.” The passions aroused by stories and characters are the prize.

Our commitment to reading is reflected in Wednesday being Just Read Night. No homework! Parents and Grandfriends, we encourage you to participate at home by reading aloud as a family, letting your child catch you reading for pleasure, rereading your favorite books, or visiting the library or a favorite book store. Make reading a delight. Make Just Read Night an event you look forward to sharing each week.

What is essential is time. It takes time to get engaged and move into the reading state. I recommend that if you are finding your child “in the zone” don’t hurry them off to something else. Allow them to enjoy this heightened form of pleasure. Nora Ephron suggests: “There’s something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can’t tell which way is up. When he resurfaces, he’s liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can’t adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All this happens to me when I resurface from a book.”
This is it. We want to invite our children to feel the rapture of the deep. To enter their own reading zones, becoming the kind of readers we all envy.

Just READ!