Many of us have fond memories of getting ready for bed and our parents asking us: “What book do you want to read tonight?” We would happily pick out a book, or even two if we were trying to be sly and stay up an extra 15 minutes. This ritual may seem stunningly simple, but the return on investment is undeniably beneficial for both the parent and the child.
So as a parents, when do you stop reading with your child? When do we put this nighttime routine to bed? The answer is never.
As a teacher, I start off the year by illustrating three very different students to the parents of my classroom. Student C reads 1 minute per day, which equals out to 180 minutes per school year, learning an average of 8,000 words per year. Statistics show that Student C will score in the 10th percentile on standardized tests.
Student B’s situation is slightly more promising: reading 5 minutes per day, equaling to 900 minutes per school year, learning an average of 282,000 words per year. Statistics show that Student B will score in the 50th percentile on standardized tests. Finally, we have Student A who reads 20 minutes per day, equaling to 3,600 minutes per school year, learning an average of 1,800,000 words per year. Statistics show that Student A will score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests.What does this situation hopefully illustrate to parents? If we want our children to become better readers, they simply need to read. If a student starts reading 20 minutes per night in Kindergarten, by the end of 6th grade, Student A will have read for the equivalent of 60 school days. The impact this practice has on a child’s academic future is almost unbelievable.
There is a common misconception that it no longer becomes important to read with children after they can read. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has shown that a child’s attitude towards reading stems from their experiences of reading at home and at school, therefore providing an enjoyable reading experience at home can help to turn your child into a life-long reader.
Reading with your child shouldn’t be forced, which is why I am an advocate of starting this process as early as possible. Parents and children should actively find books that address topics of equally shared interests. We all become more willing to dive deeper into a text if it addresses a topic we are passionate about. Use this opportunity to get to know your child or to teach your child about one of your passions.
Don’t be willing to “turn the lights out” on reading with your child. This daily routine has the potential to change the course of your child’s academic career.
Editor’s note: Dixon is the 2018-19 Bryan County Schools Teacher of the Year.