I love to read, and I always wanted to teach my children to love reading as well. It seems strange to me, but my husband hated to read growing up, what a strange concept! How could you hate reading? It occurred to me then that the love of reading does not occur naturally in all children. But, how could I help my own children to love to read as they grow older and start reading for themselves? Here is a simple method on how to raise children to love reading.I’m currently reading Educating Esmé,written by Esmé Raji Codell. It’s the story of a fifth grade teacher’s turbulent first year’s experience teaching in the classroom. As a teacher, Esmé is everything we hope our children’s teachers will be: she is passionate, creative, and fiercely loyal to her students. The book is written in journal form as she gives a day-by-day chronicle of her experiences.
Throughout the book, Esmé explains a few of her specific teaching ideas, Many of these ideas are enlightening and applicable, not only in the classroom, but in a home setting as well. One that stood out for me was her description of a reading program she started partway through the year, where she created 5 unique ‘reading roles’ her students:
I am really liking how we are doing reading now. The kids are arranged in groups, and each child is assigned a role: The “discussion director” makes up questions about the book,  the “literary luminary” reads aloud notable parts, the “language lover” defines what she determines to be the hardest words in the section, the “practical predictor” predicts what will happen next, and finally the “process checker” sums it up, keeps track of everyone’s participation, and decides how many pages they must read that night. They keep notebooks documenting their work. (Educating Esmé, Page 118)
What a fascinating idea! Reading can be an intimidating task for young minds. These ‘reading roles’ are essentially breaking down the difficult “layers” of thought that experienced readers are engaged in and can do automatically. By allowing the children to focus on one “layer” of the material at a time, and making it a fun, team activity, Esmé was able to generate excitement and interest in reading, and that—above all else—is the key to a powerful literacy program, in the home and at school
At home, you can use these same ideas to help your own reader understand and love the material. Here’s how:
– Get each child his or her own simple notebook, and use sticky tabs to label sections for each of the reading roles.
– At the start of each reading session, have each child roll a dice to assign their reading role for the session.
– As you read together, the kids interpret the book’s text according to their role, and take notes in their notebook.
– At the end of each section/chapter/page (as appropriate), have each child present their notes according to their role.
– Award “Stars” to the child for achievements for things like: Filling a page of notes, presenting well, making an especially good point, learning and applying a vocabulary word, etc. Each time the child gets five Stars in one role, she/he “levels up”. You could have your child choose a small inexpensive prize, or other reward, each time they advance a level or a designated amount of levels
– Mom and Dad could also have a notebook, draw a role each time, and level up along with the kids!
Esmé saw that this type of progress tracking created excitement for reading time, and motivated the children in her classroom to be invested in their work. How much better would it sound to hear your son or daughter begging for “one more level” of reading rather than begging for more video games? We can accomplish this by making what was once “boring reading time” into a fun game! I hope this simple method on how to raise children to love reading through Reading Roles has helped you!