Today’s blog highlights a Abound dad, Pavan P. We will be featuring Pavan in a series of blogs over the next few months, as we talk about common family questions around raising successful readers. Thanks in advance to Pavan and his family for sharing their learning-to-read stories!

Pavan and his wife have a 5-year old boy, and an 8-month old girl. Their 5-year old is a skilled reader for his age, but as Pavan explains today and in upcoming posts, that success brings its own challenges. And then there are the 8-month old’s reading-related skill needs, which are also always on Pavan’s mind, and which we will hear more about in other blogs. When we asked Pavan to talk about the readers in his house, he told us about their 5-year old, and that called to mind some things we thought other parents might want to know, too.

 

Pavan: We are all voracious readers in this household, but none more active than my 5-year old son. He enjoys fiction (e.g.,The Jungle Book, Magic Tree House Merlin Missions), non-fiction, and most recently “wrote” his first book called the Jungle Map, which is surely his attempt at thumbing his nose at existing copyright laws.

His love of reading is only surpassed by his love for his baby sister, who is now 8 months old. He takes great interest in reading books to her (e.g., by Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle).  From our perspective as parents, this has been the most effective way to give our 5-year old the freedom and power to not only read, but also to engage in books and explain what he is reading to a significantly younger reader. It has been fascinating to watch.

 

Two great things (plus one digression) come to mind as we think about Pavan’s comments:

Number 1. Encouraging a child to “write” a book is a great way to build all kinds of reading-related skills, plus build writing skills, too. How? Writing experiences allow for practice with mapping sounds onto specific letters, and also, for example, creating plot lines that have a narrative arc and make sequential sense. Studies show that when students at all levels work on writing, it can improve their reading skills — and reading also improves writing. Setting up writing opportunities can also help parents keep children engaged with a different kind of reading-related challenge. Pavan’s son has clearly been inspired to write his own books because of what he is reading, and the conversations he and his parents have had about those books.

[The brief digression: His choice of subject,  the fictional map, reminds us…Children are often curious about maps, and so when children’s fiction contains maps it is a true bonus. These maps help give shape to the imaginary world readers are entering, and often help give added dimension to the characters’ stories. So find books with maps in them**, and as you read together, you’ll get a chance to have some great conversations about, for example, what’s on the map, what the map reveals that the story doesn’t tell you (e.g., a better idea of where places are in relation to other places), and over time, the role of maps more generally.]

Number 2. Having an older sibling read to a younger one is a great idea. Not only does it give a  new reader practice so he can become more automatic at word reading (Letters & Sounds), it also gives him an opportunity to build confidence and feel good about himself as a reader.  And in addition, the younger sibling has a book experience that centers around, perhaps, the person she most admires in the world. That has got to help build a love for books and reading!

**E.g., A.A. Milne’s map of The Hundred Acre Woods in Winnie the Pooh; Richard Scarry’s map of Busytown in Busytown Race Day;  Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, which is a great read aloud for children ~ 7 yrs +, has a map of “The Lands Beyond” that is central to the story; and, of course, there is The Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter, for when that series is right for a read-aloud.