As a teen mom, I could not give my child the ideal family with a mom and a dad; I could not give my child a big fancy house to grow up in; and I couldn’t afford to put my child in private school; but I could give my child books!
From the day I brought Mainey home from the hospital, I read him night-night stories (which all my children refer to as “ni-ni” stories). Mainey loved books! He loved books so much that he often chose a good book over a good toy. Sometimes he would be stuck on one book, and he would insist that I read it night after night, to the point where he had the story memorized. So, by the time Mainey started kindergarten he could read books on his own – he was ready for school. That is how I know that books can make a difference for our children. Now days you can easily find research on the benefits of reading to your baby: read-to-your-baby.html
Did you know that many children who are not proficient in reading will end up in jail or on welfare? According to the literacy statistics on www.begintoread.com “2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.” This statistic reminds of the time I volunteered at my son, Mark’s school about twenty years ago.
Mark was in the 3rd grade and he excelled in reading like his older brother, but the same could not be said for one of his classmates. The teacher had me review flash cards with this little boy, and it broke my heart to see that he couldn’t even read the word “jar” with a picture of a jar right on the card. I cried for that little boy all the way back to my job, and I resolved that no matter what struggles I had in obtaining my teaching degree, I had to make it through for students like him.
I don’t know what that little boy’s family life was like, and I don’t know how his life turned out, but I do hope that he did not become a statistic. I do know that as a teacher now, I draw from my experiences as a mother and community member to first, help students discover the joy of reading, before teaching them how to take somebody’s reading test.
I truly believe that children need to find joy in books, which will give them the motivation to read. And like I always tell my students, “The more you read, the better reader you become.”