Sunday, March 7, 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader

It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader. What does that really mean? It's the theme for this coming week's blog literacy tour, starting March 8. All week you will see posts at the Book Chook and elsewhere from wonderful contributors to Share a Story- Shape a Future 2010, posts that celebrate literacy in all its forms. Here's what the theme means to me.

Meet Penny. She's six years old and loves to read. Penny has lots of books of her own. She can already read some easy ones, but she likes to pretend to read favourite picture books she knows by heart. Penny and her family live in the village of Appleglen, near Boomtown.

Meet Buffy. Buffy is supposed to be an outdoor dog, but sometimes on cold wet nights, she sneaks inside the house and lies by the fire. Penny loves to read to Buffy. The dog listens hard and rewards Penny with an occasional lick and uncritical admiration.

Meet Penny's Mum and Dad. They've read aloud to Penny since she was a baby. Dad loves the one-on-one time he gets to spend with his daughter when he reads her books at bedtime. Sometimes he uses silly voices and makes Penny giggle. Mum likes to grab books whenever they go out in the car, and she reads to Penny if they stop in traffic, or maybe at the doctor's. Mum listens to Penny read the little books she brings home from school while she's cooking dinner. Both Mum and Dad love to read too, and Penny often sees them reading, writing and playing with words.

Meet Grandpa Prickle. Grandpa loves to make Penny laugh, and he tells her jokes and riddles. Now she's six, he takes Penny shopping when it's her birthday, so she can choose her own books and toys. They always have a chocolate milkshake afterwards, and Grandpa pretends he can't read shop signs so Penny has to help him.

Meet Ms Magic. She is the children's librarian at the Boomtown Local Library. Ms Magic knows Penny's name, and always takes an interest in what books she's borrowing. Ms Magic invites Penny to Storytime, where Ms Magic brings wonderful books to life for the youngsters who attend.

Meet Mr Puffalot. He's the mayor of Boomtown. Apart from Football magazines, he's never been much of a reader, but he believes that reading is essential for children's future success. He uses his influence in the town to ensure the library has a decent budget for buying wonderful children's books. And Football magazines.

Meet Jasmyn and Tegan. They live near Penny and often invite her to join their games. They're both ten and are teaching Penny all the skipping rhymes and chants they learn at school. Tegan has a piano at her house, and sometimes the girls make up little tunes and songs with it.

Meet Mr Ink. Penny sometimes sees him when he's sitting reading at the bus stop. He gets off the bus at Boomtown Publishing where he is the chief editor. Mr Ink sets very high standards in the company. He loves quality children's literature and tries to find the best writers, illustrators and editors to work with him.

Meet Mrs Sweetling. She teaches Year One in Appleglen Primary School. Mrs Sweetling is passionate about children's literature and her curriculum is based around it. Penny knows Mrs Sweetling thinks she is wonderful, and loves to tell her teacher about the books she's read.

Meet Billy's dad. He comes along as a volunteer parent to the Year One classroom because he wants Billy to know he values education. Penny and Billy both love to read to Billy's dad, and he expresses to each of them how much he enjoys their stories.

Meet Mary Macnary. She's a children's writer who somehow manages to write text simple enough for young readers, yet enjoyable as stories in their own right. Penny loves books like Mrs Washalot, and The Crazy Caterpillar. Dad helped Penny locate Mary Macnary's website. Penny can find all her favourite characters there, and play little games about stories she knows.

In villages around the world, people just like these are influencing young readers. All of these people are positive role models, so I like to think of them as raising or lifting kids to the wonderful heights that being able to read confers on us. We can all play a part in raising readers: by surrounding kids in print, by having regular read-alouds, by modelling our own love of reading, by lobbying politicians to fund libraries and education, by blogging about and promoting children's literature and literacy. 

It takes a village to raise a reader, so let's raise 'em! And please share any other good ideas you have for growing little bookworms.

[I made the cartoon above at Toon Doo, a great place for kids and chooks who like to read and write cartoons.)


  1. Cathy C. Hall07 March, 2010

    Wow! That's a lot of people to meet! But you're so right...the more support a child has, the more he or she is likely to be a lifelong reader. When I was a little kidlet, my mom sent off for a series of books. I sat in a corner with my treasure and learned to read. So my suggestion? Take advantage of your library, but buy a few favorite books for your kidlet. It's been forty or more years and I still remember "A Pickle for a Nickel."Now that's a lasting legacy!

  2. Book Chook07 March, 2010

    Great point, Cathy! I've seen the nostalgic look on readers' faces when they discuss their very own books from their childhood. Owning a book enables repeated readings of it too, and I'm convinced that helps reading ability.

  3. I'm the aunt that reads to the nieces and nephews when the same old same old gets tiring for the parents - put a new spin on the favorite tale and enjoy snuggling up quality time. It shows the kids a consistent example of a love of books and reading through the adults they know, but also allows for them to see the personal touch each of us brings to a story - even the familiar ones.

  4. Kelly Burstow07 March, 2010

    I like

  5. A greal post, I'm so looking forward to seeing what else this tour has in store.

  6. I'm a new reader of your blog and so happy to have found it...this is a wonderful post!

  7. I'm a new reader of your blog and so happy to have found it...this is a wonderful post!

  8. joy simpson08 March, 2010

    A great post Susan. I was thinking about a wonderful book The Reading Environment by Aiden Chambers and what he says about book corners. 'Book displays make books prominent. They stimulate interest. They deeply influence the mental set of people who see them.' I just know that Mrs Sweetling will have a wonderful book corner that invites children and adults in to browse and spend time buried in a good book.

  9. RT @BookChook<wbr></wbr>: It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader What does that really mean? What can we do to raise readers? An ...

  10. Book Chook08 March, 2010

    Bumbles, that is an excellent point! Each village member has their own individuality to bring to a child's reading experience, enriching it immeasurably.

    ( I see you have persevered with my cranky comment system. I seem to have lost moderation and just before the tour! Will remove the duplicates asap.)

  11. Book Chook08 March, 2010

    Thanks, Kelly!

  12. Book Chook08 March, 2010

    I think it will be even better than last year's tour, Guest. Very exciting!

  13. Book Chook08 March, 2010

    Great, Lauren! (I will definitely get a new comment system after the tour!)

  14. Book Chook08 March, 2010

    Joy, you're right! I love seeing classrooms with book nooks that just will us to curl up with a book. Book stores too.

  15. It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader: via @addthis

  16. This reminds me of my own childhood, and now I am an adult who is a voracious reader. It does take a village to raise a student who reads. Our local library is now using guide dogs in the library for children to read to. It has been a major success, kids love snuggling up with the dogs and reading a book. We also have a local school that asks for volunteers from the community to sign up and read a book over lunch with a student at the school. It is a great program and show kids that others value their education and bring out the fun in reading with others.

  17. Book Chook09 March, 2010

    That volunteer program sounds like a great idea, Kelly. I included a dog in my post because I had read about those programs. I knew too from my own background - many evenings in summer would find me on the back step reading to my uncritical four-legged audience!


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