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Monday, June 29, 2009

Parent of a Motivated Young Reader: An Interview

I love learning about what creates a motivated reader! One if my Literacy Launchpad students has recently begun reading like crazy. Seriously. All of sudden she's reading me the stories during class time! This student - let's call her "Kate" for the sake of privacy in this post - has been a Literacy Launchpad student for a few years now, and has also spent some time doing Hooked On Phonics lessons with me. She's been an enthusiastic learner for as long as I've known her! Her mother graciously allowed me to interview her so we could all glean some insight that we can perhaps apply with our own children!

I love Kate's mom! She is one of the coolest, sweetest, most down-to-earth people I know. And this interview with her helped me see that raising a motivated reader doesn't have to be some tricky, heavy handed effort. (Those heavy handed efforts rarely accomplish what they're intended to.) Here is my interview with Kate's Mom:

Amy: It seems like almost overnight Kate is reading everything! Was the appearance of her reading skills as sudden and surprising for you guys (you and your husband), or did it seem more gradual?

Kate's Mom: It seemed gradual to us. However, we have been quizzing Kate since she was old enough to pay attention. We had tub letters when she was less than a year old and would ask her to find them for us – “where’s the W”, “where’s the P”. Then we would spell out simple words – three letters or so. Then on to her name and other words that called out her surroundings – “tub”, “soap”, “hot”. She seemed to catch on quickly and seemed to really like to be quizzed so we kept it up. Soon, we moved on to labels on groceries and road signs. At the same time, we were working with colors and shapes too. I seriously thought she was going to turn around one day and say “ENOUGH ALREADY!” but she was a good sport.

Amy: When and how did you guys see/discover/realize that Kate could read?

Kate's Mom: Actually, it was a couple of times. First when we put the tub letters on the wall to make a work and she read it. Later, while reading books, I used my finger to follow along the words, showing her what I was reading. I asked her the simple words. She didn’t get all of them but she did get most of them. About six months ago, she started reading Junie B. Jones books to her dolls. At first I thought she was just making up the story from what she had heard me read. Then, one day, I looked over her shoulder and realized she was actually reading the story.

Amy: Is there a specific technique, activity, attitude, or strategy was implemented at home or at school that you attribute to Kate learning to read?

Kate's Mom: Obviously Literacy Launchpad was integral. At home, we have always read books to Kate, then with her. Now she reads to us.

Amy: Are you and your husband big readers? Does Kate see you reading often?

Kate's Mom: I would love to say that we are big readers. But we’re not. We are knowledge junkies. If we don’t know something, we find it. In books, on the internet etc. My husband and I are both really high strung which makes it difficult for a book to hold our attention long enough to get through it.

These sentences are posted in the preschool hall. Kate surprised us all by reading all the sentences.

Amy: What kind of reading materials are available at your house for Kate?

Kate' Mom: Kate has crates of books representing all reading levels thanks to her aunt who IS a big reader.

Amy: Does Kate have some favorite books and/or authors?

Kate' Mom: Not really. She reads everything.

Amy: How often does Kate watch TV/videos? Does she have a favorite show or movie?

Kate's Mom: Her favorite television shows are: Max and Ruby, iCarly, Grease, Jonas Brothers.

Amy: What kind of reading experiences do you share at home? (i.e. bedtime stories, library trips, etc.).

Kate's Mom: We go to the library and pick out books. We read books when the feeling hits us.

Amy: We've seen that Kate is able to read. Does she also enjoy reading?

Kate's Mom: Kate LOVES to read. Road signs, books, food boxes. She loves words.

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