Two months into this school year, I heard the most dreaded words that a parent can hear, “your child is behind in reading.” Okay, maybe those aren’t the most dreaded words but for me it was a blow to my parenting skills, my love of reading and everything we do here at home.
I wrote about my frustration and our reading struggle almost a full month after we received the news that Peanut was not only below his 1st grade level but that he was barely at a kindergarten reading level. I touched on what the school planned to do about it (and subsequently what I decided to do about what they decided).
I won’t lie: since I wrote that some nights were really rough where I just said – Enough. We didn’t read as were supposed to (even armed with every Elephant and Piggie library book found within two counties), we didn’t practice sight words or even play the games I came up with.
We simply were. Peanut would instead sit with me and read what I was reading or working on online, he would play games on the computer, video games or help me in the kitchen.
Those proved to be the nights where he learned the most and inside my mom-knows-everything soul, I knew they would be.
We were supposed to have a follow up meeting with everyone at the school in December but I got sick, his teacher got sick and then it came time for Christmas break so we collectively agreed to put it off until January.
January came and so did report cards. Peanut jumped TWO reading levels. Everything except his handwriting (which I think is partially him rushing since he’s been told that he works “slow”) and that’s still a bit messy and cluttered.
As someone who loves reading and books, this was music to my ears. As his mom, this was music to my heart. I feel like we’ve climbed a mountain and we are standing at the top peering into the wide open sky, ready for the next level.
I followed up with his teacher and asked about that January meeting. Her response? We don’t need it. We are going to check in through parent teacher conferences and the occasional phone call or note home when needed.
He still doesn’t choose a book over a video game or his favorite television show in the evenings but I’ve put changes in place that take those things out of the equation two to three nights a week and those are the nights he sidles up next to me and reads what I’m doing or becomes my helper in every way possible.
However, he has started bringing home books from the school library that are both his speed and a challenge; he loves the Garfield comics and those books regularly come home in his backpack. We choose the funniest looking ones or the ones with words like “ACK”, “OOOF”, or other made up, nonsense words and read those. We don’t keep track of the clock and we don’t stop just because it’s bedtime.
Our Book Love Review
As I mentioned in the title of this post, I’m sharing with you my official review of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader by Melissa Taylor. My last post on our reading issues covered some of Melissa’s book which I received an advance copy of and unfortunately I was sick every.month.since. So I didn’t get to tell you (officially) how much I love this book (until now).
The problem with a lot of how-to or parenting help books that I’ve found is that they’re overwhelming with too much information and the goal of the book is often missed. Book Love isn’t like that at all. It’s in a format that really breaks things up so that not only do you understand it, but you aren’t bombarded with a bunch of stuff you don’t really need.
Examples to help De-Mystify and Solve Problems
Book Love also gives tons of examples. I think the one place where parents break from reading to actually doing what a how-to book suggests is examples that aren’t practical or don’t apply to the situation. Since Melissa breaks the book into possible reading struggles, the examples on how to decide which your child is struggling with are easily outlined and then follow up solutions with examples are in the book to. She literally guides you from potential problem to solution.
I was able to take two of the potential problems that I thought we were having with Peanut’s reading and go from being unsure to knowing what to do and how to do it.
Games and Activities Galore
Melissa Taylor knows how to put the fun into learning how to read. She provides plenty of games and activities for getting from “no fun” to “let’s play again!” which is something I never thought I’d hear from my son. Book Love gives parents endless ideas on how to turn reading from a task that kids may not enjoy to a fun experience that doesn’t feel like learning at all. We played “I Spy”, “Search and Find Sight Words”, and a game that I devised where we took his sight words and made complete sentences (some silly) out of the words in his envelope. We’ve also implemented many of the word and reading comprehension strategies that Melissa outlines in Chapter 11. I’m especially thrilled that as we encounter unfamiliar words (both in books and conversations), Peanut is asking the ever important question, “What does that mean?” so he is learning to expand his vocabulary too!
Offline Printables to Keep on Learning and Having Fun
Melissa goes one step further that a lot of how-to books don’t go to; she provides great printable resources on the home site Book Love: www.book-love.net and she provides links to other educational sites that offer printables too so you’re never left wondering how to make word lists, phonics, or flash cards on your own.
The thing I love is that as Peanut grows; Book Love will grow with him so we can try out and implement new strategies should we hit a reading wall again.
I never thought I’d have a child that would struggle with reading and yes, in the beginning I was a hot, panicky mess over it but with the coaching and guidance I’ve gotten out of Melissa’s book, I feel not just reassured, but empowered that we’re on the right track with learning to be a great reader.