I’m breaking from the normal schedule of science posts following book reviews. One reason is that M.E. Castle (the author of Popular Clone) already has lots of great experiments that you can find here. So I’ve called in another guest poster, the lovely and smart Tasha Seegmiller. You can find her blog here and follow her on Twitter here. I highly recommend both! Tasha is an English teacher who has a really great personal story of instilling a love of reading in her son.
There seems to be a strange phenomenon happening in the world of boys and books. If the boys like fantasy books, their love of reading tends to be high. If they don’t, often they don’t read at all.
And I have a son who doesn’t like much fantasy.
He only wanted to read comic books, but often didn’t really read them, and his reading level was dropping with each parent teacher conference from above level to on level to below level. When he left 5thgrade of elementary school at the end of last year, his reading level was 4.2. Yup, he was almost two grades below reading level. I couldn’t get him to read at all. I visited with him and he said he liked listening to the books be read in school, but didn’t like reading things to himself.
My mother in law suggested letting him listen to audiobooks while reading, and I was ready to try anything. The first book we tried this with was Popular Clone. And within a chapter or two, I heard something I had not heard from my son ever when reading. He laughed. And again. And after the reading, my son wanted to tell me what had happened in the book.
Sold on this idea, we started frequenting the library, trying to find audiobooks and hard copies of books to let him get his reading in over the summer. We worked through the “Fudge” books and he remembered he didn’t mind The Ranger’s Apprentice series.
Soon, the amount of times he asked how much longer to read decreased, and several times I had to tell him he had to go to sleep after the chapter.
Not long after this started working for us, I heard him try to read something in a store out loud to me and I realized the reason for the success. His vocabulary, his ability to sound out the words, had him pronouncing letter combinations and diphthongs in such bizarre ways I couldn’t figure out the word. By having access to the audiobooks, he was able to build the vocabulary while still understanding and finding enjoyment from the stories he was reading.
Remember that 4.2 reading level at the end of his 5thgrade year? When the same assessment was given at the beginning of his 6th grade year, it came back as an 8.3.
My son’s reading level went up FOUR grade levels in the months over summer.
If you have a reluctant reader, I highly recommend this technique. And I’m not going to lie to you and tell you he loves to read any chance he can get, but it provides a way for him to access the world of reading, to find enjoyment in it, to realize it doesn’t just have to be the thing he has to do for 25 minutes a night to get a good grade.
And that’s enough to bring joy to the heart of this book-loving mom.
Thank you, Tasha!