Graphic novels are on the rise and with it, the reading "purists" of the world are trying to bring them down. For as long as I have been tuned in to the world of children's literature, I've noticed that many people have very specific opinions about what constitutes quality reading material. It's not just graphic novels either. For some reason, many people believe they are the ones who get to decide which things are the "best" to read. As someone who has been in a classroom for almost 20 years, I have my own feelings about this. TLDR: It all counts and I'm ready to take on anyone who says otherwise. Move on or get with the program reading snobs, our world doesn't need your support of illiteracy.
|Readers are born on the |
(With my sincerest apologies to Emilie Buchwald.)
What SHOULD kids be reading?
Everything. Anything. Do you know what is worse than a kid who is reading so-called crap? A kid who isn't reading. Do you know what's worse than a kid who is reading so-called crap? A kid who loved reading but now hates it because someone told them what they were reading wasn't good enough.
|Friends let friends read whatever they want.|
But come on, isn't there a line? Shouldn't kids be reading quality literature?
Sure. Kids should read quality literature. But they won't get there if they can't read. And here's what I know about how you learn to read - you read. Get it? The more you read, the better reader you become. So if you start reading books based on tv shows that have few unique words and don't really boost your vocabulary or your inferencing skills, that's ok. You have to start somewhere. Now, to be honest, I do have a policy with my niece and nephews about what books I buy for them at our "books and ice cream" dates. I say no to books based off of movies and tv shows. This is because I know they are reading those and have access to those and I want to get them a unique book that they may not have read before. Does Oscar have books here at the house based on books and movies? Yep.
|Oscar, learning how to read |
So doesn't everything count as reading?
Yes. Everything counts as reading. If you need a little bit of education about the rates of illiteracy and low literacy in America, read Other People's Words by Victoria Purcell-Gates. It was published in 1997 and despite the fact that it is now 23 years old, it changed my world in terms of thinking about how we teach kids to read. If we want our future to change, we need our kids to be literate, first and foremost. And if we discourage kids from reading, I don't care what kind of reading it is, then we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our future. Ha, there's my new slogan - "Be Selfish - Let Kids Read Anything."
So, what counts as reading? The back of a cereal box. Signs on a street. Where's Waldo? The local grocery store's weekly specials. Junk mail. Pride and Prejudice. Captain Underpants. The grocery list. We want kids to know that READING IS POWER. If you can read, you have power, you have access to information. Now, it is true that we live in a time when folks don't always choose to use their power. But you can't even begin to access that power if you can't read.
Ready for a true story? I know a guy who was seriously dyslexic as a child. He grew up to have a very successful career making loads of money. "You want to know how I finally learned how to read?" he asked me. "YES!" "I wanted to read the dirty books. I was pretty motivated to figure it out then." Thank goodness he didn't care what people thought the right books were to read.
|When you learn that symbols represent|
information, you have found power.
When you see your child reading something that you think is too "easy" for them or too "hard" for them, but they are absorbed in it - let go of the urge to tell them to stop. Talk to your child about what they are reading. Find out what is so interesting about it. Ask a kid to read the funny message on their shirt. Think about your own reading history. What are things you loved to read that others may have thought weren't right for you? Keep a list of all the things you read every day. Stop and notice your power. And for goodness sake, let kids read. Anything.
|This counts too.|
|Counts. For both kids.|
|A 5 year old wrote this book about my cat.|
This counts. For me and the child who wrote it
and read it to me first.
|Fourth graders reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid,|
and picture books in the toddler section of the library?