Day 224: Did You Read To Your Dog Today?

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You can't teach an old dog a new trick!

“Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.” Emily Dickinson 

I’m willing to try just about anything to help children fall in love with reading, but today’s suggestion is way out there, even for me.  Boston’s Daily Dose Health News suggests that children who read regularly to their dogs improve reading words per minute.  These children also showed a slight increase in positive attitudes toward reading.  I like this kind of thinking and I’m willing to give it a try!  First though, I’ll need to start reading to my dog and see what sorts of obstacles occur.

Here are my suggestions about reading, coming from a person who really didn’t like to read as a child.

Falling in love with reading: When I taught middle school science, my goal was to help all students fall in love with science.  As an elementary teacher, I need a passion for all of the subjects I teach.  One of my favorite goals is to help my students fall in love with reading, and I find that reading aloud to them often helps them get hooked. Each year, I choose a few read-a-louds that I know they will grab with excitement.  We don’t speed through these books.  In fact, we take a lot of time reading them– expanding on the characters.  We relate to and help those characters come alive in class.  In our class conversations, we often discuss characters and we get letters and writing prompts written from the characters to our students in class.  This builds excitement for reading.  My favorite story for young children is Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech.  It’s easy to help children connect with these characters because the characters differ so much from each other that students can easily relate to them.

Getting the right books to the right children:  I know there is a book that will “turn on” a certain child to reading.  The problem is to find a way to get that book in the hands of the child that will love it.  I use an interest survey and book recommendations to do this, but it’s still a daily challenge for me.

Getting a child to read a large number of books from various genres: This summer I read a wonderful book by a 6th grade language arts teacher called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  She suggests that every child needs to read books they choose and a lot of them.  She feels that 40 books from various genres a year is a magic number.  Something in the brain seems to click after the children read the first 40 books.  Basically, reading causes children to love to read.  This year I’m going for something similar in my third grade class.  Whatever it takes to help these children learn to love reading, maybe even reading to their dogs, will be worthwhile.

If the dog experiment works for even one of my twenty students this year, it will have been a worthy experiment.  What do you do to encourage your children or your students to read?

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7 responses »

  1. I wish you had been my teacher, I have never finished reading a single book from cover to cover, I came close one time, I only had about twenty pages left out of a four hundred page book.

    I just stopped reading it, not because I had lost interest, but because I didn’t want to break my record. Wow that’s not really a good record to be proud of is it?

    I have taken more interest in reading now days but I still don’t like to read books, I think because it takes up too much of my time.

    Maybe when I am to old a frail to do anything else, I will start to enjoy reading books, but for now I will just stick to post like yours.

    • You know I never liked to read as a child either. I still have trouble enjoying novels unless someone buys me one. Then, I feel kind of obligated to read it. I had a lot of difficulties in comprehension when I was a child, so that’s where I spend a lot of time with the children. I try to help them believe that the characters and the places are real. Sometimes we will spend two or three days on the first two chapters of a book until we really know the characters. Then, we can take off.

      Now I find that I love to read books that teach me how to do something. I love going to the libraries in the States. One of the best things I found there are the books on tape where you can be listening while on a trip somewhere. Or sometimes I like to listen and read along at the same time. The library of Hoover is easy to join and is the best one I’ve seen for variety of books in the Birmingham area. It is just a fun one with all kinds of how to books. Reading to children will also really get you hooked again. No need to give up yet!

  2. So what did Biscuit have to say about your reading to her? Claudia, you’re such a great teacher – wish my son had been able to be in your class many years ago!!

    • For some reason, she didn’t seem to relate to that version of Pilgrim’s Progress. She might do better with the original since that one was more on a child’s level. How are you these days? I’m hoping to see you at the hospital on Friday night.

      Love you all!

      • I’m doing well. Rick went to Jomtien this morning. Maliwan called yesterday and said there were two men who came from the same middle eastern country that they’ve had before. She asked Rick to come this morning and talk to them so he went. I’m at home, of course. Can’t maneuver the stairs to get to the church. Looking forward to seeing you Friday night. Have a great week!! Love you much.

  3. Claudia, you continue to astound me. I love the idea of kids reading to their dogs. I did not read to my dog today, but I did sing to her because she’s the only one who can tolerate my terrible singing.

    Right now I am trying my hand at motivating some kids who’d probably prefer to be on the basketball court. I can’t say I have had a lot of success yet, but I do see some signs of awakening in some…and one girl is blossoming just beautifully.

    I do NOT like 45 min periods. I have barely enough time to rouse them from “hibernation” and then the bell rings. I need to re-work my all my lessons for this coming week now that I see what 45 minutes is like.

    I miss you.

    Ruth

    • I think it would be a big change after our 70 minute classes. I was thinking the other day, would our children actually get more if they went back to 45 minute classes? It would require more of the teachers. I think math is one of those subjects where the students might get more with shorter classes. Reading and science really do need more time. You’ll have it down perfectly and you won’t want to leave! That’s my guess.

      If anyone can motivate those children, you can for sure!!! I would like to hear you sing to your dog!

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