Oh, the Places You’ll Go!… If only you will read!

16 Aug

As a teacher I have always thought that reading was important.  It wasn’t until I taught first grade for the first time that I was truly aware of importance of  a great beginning.  I was as excited as my students with their progress.  I loved watching them make the transition from forming letter sounds into words, reading sentences and finally picking up a book to read on their own.

In our school district we used a phonics based program for teaching reading.  The program required parent involvement each evening with their child.  The students read together with their classmates each day and some time reading with the teacher each day to check their progress.   The students made almost a seamless transition in spelling their words.  Some of the students struggled in learning to read.  I’ve learned that there are different types of learners and to teach just one type of way doesn’t meet all their needs. 

I had the opportunity to teach the same students several years later when they were in fifth grade.  I realized at that point in time that the students who struggled in the first grade were still struggling in reading and their comprehension of what they were reading. 

At the first grade level it didn’t seem as critical if a student wasn’t quite at the same level in their learning because in every classroom there is a wide variety in ability from the low to the high students.  At the fifth grade level, however, the ability to comprehend what they read is a very critical skill.  It affects every subject area that students study even their math skills.  By the fifth grade the students need to be able to read story problems in math.  If they cannot comprehend what they read to do their math work, they struggle not only in reading but math as well.

If I were teaching reading again back in the first grade and beyond I would change my teaching to a reading saturated curriculum.  Fluent readers would be my goal for all my students.  I wouldn’t focus on the other subjects but make reading the priority.  For the student who struggled reading, the focus would be to use every method available to help them become fluent readers.  The ability to comprehend what they read is critical to success in all subject areas and comes with fluency.

I was raised in a home where there was always an ample supply of books to read and someone was always reading.  The example of the importance of reading was set on a daily basis.  If you needed to know something you looked it up in a book.  Granted, I grew up in a time before the internet was the place to look just about everything up but we learned that there was a whole world out there to be found in a book.

We live in a new world with technology at its center.  It is hard to escape from its grip.  I still love to pick out a book at a bookstore, library, or online and hold it in my hands, and read to escape into another world.  I just finished reading the fourth book by James Herriot,  the veterinarian.  Due to the vivid descriptions by the author I was transported to the heather covered hills of England and into the old barns where he treated his patients.  I’ve met the different characters in his stories and have made comparisons to our local characters in our small town.

Books are a treasure to behold.  Whether it is a fiction or non-fiction, children’s book or textbook, they offer insight into another world if we will just read.


Posted by on August 16, 2010 in education, Reflections


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5 responses to “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!… If only you will read!

  1. Thomas Stazyk

    August 23, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Totally agree. Unfortunately fewer kids are reading and the result is that they don’t develop an imagination–because they’ve never used a book to take them someplace.

    • flyinggma

      August 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

      I’ve noticed that especially for boys there seems to be less written that catches their attention.

      With all the video games and movies with the elaborate backgrounds and characters its hard for a book to compete for their attention. They don’t have to think or use their imagination like they would if they were reading.

  2. Joe Clark

    August 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Wow, you are hitting a nail right on the head. I agree with both you and Thomas and have always believed we fail to teaching reading in a fun and dynamic way. As a consequence, students associate reading with something boring and not fun. What then happens is a domino reaction with every other course learned in school. It all becomes “boring,” and the students are not reticent to say so either. Oh, if they only knew of the pleasures of reading…

  3. Patricia Lyra

    January 23, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I have a 5 year old son and a 14 year old niece who lives with me. I try to make reading as pleasurable as I can for them so that they don’t miss the opportunity of discovering all those new places, all of those people, all of those times… some of which I have already been to, some I am still going to. All thanks to reading. Reading is not a school obligation, it is one of the great gifts and journeys you can take, this is what we should be teaching our children.


    • flyinggma

      January 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more on the gift of reading for our children. Teaching children how to read and watching them grow in their ability as a reader is something I miss about not teaching. If you can instill a lifelong desire to read in a child they can do anything because they can learn to do it through reading.


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