By: Katie Bellopede, STEM Teacher
As my young family grows and discovers the seemingly more engaging and highly entertaining world of iPads, computers, and video games, I have come to realize that the voracity with which my children consumed books has been redirected on their consumption of video games, apps, TV and computers. As an educator and a parent, I wrestle with this balance. On the one hand, I am excited about the use of technology as a learning tool and the variety of experiences my children are having online; however, on the other hand, I am worried that they are missing out on valuable imaginative play and that our on-line and on-screen role models may not be the best. I have also noticed that my daughter’s (8) and my sons’ (6, 4) desires to read have dramatically decreased as a result of open access to technology in our home. This is to say, given the choice, my children would rather play on the iPad than read a book. This breaks my heart.
So as a mother, a teacher and an avid reader, I have resolved to re-ignite reading in 2017.
THE READING CHALLENGE. Last night at dinner, my husband and I introduced the “Reading Challenge.” Each member of the family has agreed upon a reading goal; whether it be number of books, minutes of book time per day, or number of pages, we each are participating in this reading challenge. There is no time limit to this challenge, but the reward is one worth reading for. Here is how it works: Each member of the family sets a goal for themselves. And then I created Reading Logs, charts where each of us will record our progress. My daughter in 2nd grade will document the title, author as well as complete a BME (Beginning, Middle, End) chart for each book she reads. Then she will rate the book out of 5 stars. My son, in Kindergarten, will log his books by reading aloud to either my husband or I; then he will write the title and author of the book, draw a picture of his favorite part and rate the book out of 5 stars. My youngest son, in Pre-K, will get a star on his chart for every 5 minutes he spends looking at books on his own. As the children read and update their reading logs, they will engage with books on their reading level and interact with text in a way that is age appropriate. Keeping a reading log also gives my husband and me the opportunity to have conversations with our children about what they are reading. Reading is so much fun when you can share the experience!
THE REWARD! My goal in initiating The Reading Challenge is to celebrate reading in my home and share my love of reading with my family. So I wanted the reward to be indicative of the goal. The reward needed to be meaningful and one we could share in as a family. So my husband and I decided that as a reward for meeting a reading goal, the “Winner” would get to choose a restaurant for Friday Night Family dinner.
All three of my children have embraced the Reading Challenge and are busy with books. I am so excited to see them excited about reading again. It makes my heart smile that they are taking a more active interest in books and talking about stories, rather than sitting in front of the TV.