Today’s interview is with Alysia P., the mom of two young readers (5 and 7), and a marketing expert in the Greater Boston area.
1. Tell us about the readers in your house.
My first grader is an avid reader. This is the first year where I have to ask her if we can read together, since she would generally prefer to lose herself in a book on her own. She loves all kinds of books, especially, fiction about animals (it’s amazing how many books there are written from the viewpoint of a hamster!), and non-fiction about the natural world. My 5-year old is really into funny stories, like Mo Willems and Fly Guy books, and pretty much anything that rhymes. Some days he wants to read and other times he just wants to be read to. Plus, we do a lot of games, like word searches.
2. What challenges do you face as you try to prepare your children to be strong readers? (E.g., time, information)
Right now we are focused on two challenges: First, making sure that all of our competing interests don’t crowd out our reading time. As the days get longer and it stays light later, everyone wants to be out playing and exploring as long as possible, which is a great thing! But it does mean that bedtime books don’t always happen, so I am mindful about working reading into our routines earlier in the day. Second, it’s exciting for me to see my kids “read” for themselves, but I try not to get overly focused on their abilities to decipher the words. That’s obviously essential, but they love books, so I want to keep our primary focus on understanding and learning from what we read. I’d rather have a great conversation about a character or why something may or may not be true, versus trudging through an endless stack of early readers with my 5-year old. I want them to love to read because of the freedom and power it will give them for the rest of their lives – not to view it as a chore.
3. What about the Abound tool and concept resonates with you?
I love that Abound is so easy to use. The first time I logged on, I think it only took me 10 minutes to get feedback on both of my children. There is so much valuable information and expert advice on the site, which is great for when I want to dig in and learn more, but it also offers concrete suggestions that I can use right away, for those days when I don’t have extra time. Plus, I appreciate that it offers a holistic view on developing reading skills, so it goes way beyond just sight words or phonics. I like that Abound is an on-going tool because it offers new ideas and information for each step along the way in our reading journey. I only wish Abound had been around 7 years ago!
4. Do you have any advice for other parents around supporting children’s reading development?
I think it makes sense for parents to think about reading as we do about food: we should aim to expose children to a healthy variety of foods every day, while keeping their preferences in mind. It should be the same with books. So I suggest choosing books about what they are interested in so they want to spend time with books, plus also including books that are a bit different, too, to broaden their interests. I also think that no matter what else is going on, it’s important to schedule library visits like you would swim lessons or a playdate. We have discovered so many interesting authors and books that way. And finally I think it’s great to put book bins in the most commonly-used spaces; such as, the living room, kids’ rooms, and the car – and also down low/where the kids can access them whenever they want – so that there are always books within reach!