“Becoming a reader is a gradual process that begins with our first interactions with print. As children, there is no fixed point at which we suddenly become readers. Instead, all of us bring our understanding of spoken language, our knowledge of the world, and our experiences in it to make sense of what we read. We grow in our ability to comprehend and interpret a wide range of reading materials by making appropriate choices from among the extensive repertoire of skills and strategies that develop over time. These strategies include predicting, comprehension monitoring, phonemic awareness, critical thinking, decoding, using context, and making connections to what we already know.”—NCTE Position Statement on Reading
I do remember when I first wanted to read for myself. It was one day when I had witnessed all the fanfare my mom provided as she was beginning to reread again my favorite children’s story. It was, after all, my very favorite book when I was four. The memories I have are both episodic and semantic, but it’s the episodic ones that are really special, as they enable me to retell those experiences with my own blending of experiences and emotional attachments.
This experience of learning the love of reading as I was learning to read is one that is harder for me to put into words than I would expect of myself. The definitions included in “The Five Foundations of Reading” (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension) bring back memories of things mom did to draw my attention and were grounded in these foundations. Teachers of early grades who teach reading use these foundations; it is so engrained in their teaching!
After some time, I felt confident enough, and comfortable enough, to stop my mother from reading any more of it aloud herself. “Mom, let me read now! I can read it!”
How was it that I learned to read, by the way? For those folks lucky enough to have had a “significant other” read aloud to them every single day while seated in their lap and having pointed to the words as they were being read, they know. This is but one evidenced-based practice, made popular by Dick Allington, that illustrate that“ successful efforts to improve reading achievement emphasize identification and implementation of evidence-based practices that promote high rates of achievement when used in classrooms by teachers with diverse instructional styles with children who have diverse instructional needs and interests”, communicated as a position statement by the IRA in the article “What is Evidence-Based Reading Instruction?”
What I liked to read largely depended upon what I was interested in at the time. I remember taking an interest in turtles mainly because I got one for my fifth birthday. So, for a short while, everything I read had to be about turtles. I had to learn all about them. It’s the same with kiddos today. And one of the main questions educators need to ask themselves when teaching reading is, “Does the program or instructional approach provide a collection of high-quality literary materials that are diverse in level of difficulty, genre, topic, and cultural representation to meet the individual needs and interests of the children with whom it will be used?” according to the article, “What is Evidenced-Based Reading Instruction?
My mom back in the day when she was in college. She has been deceased for quite a long time now, although at times it feels like yesterday. She died too young, but not before she taught her children some awesome “life-long learner” skills:)