Be a lifelong reader!

  • How to support your child in becoming a lifelong reader

    (taken from Columbia's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and

    author Donalyn Miller)

    So what exactly do lifelong readers do? A few very predictable things:

    1. Lifelong readers spend time, often a lot of time, reading.

    2. Lifelong readers successfully self-select books.

    3. Lifelong readers have a social life around reading.

    Lifelong Readers Spend Time, Often A Lot of Time, Reading

    One of the most important things that families can do to build the “read a lot” habit is to teach kids that readers carry reading with them, often lots of it, wherever they go. That is, readers rarely make a trip—short, long, and in between—without some form of reading. A trip to the bathroom? Lifelong readers stock their bathrooms with reading material, everything from magazines to joke books to almanacs. A vacation trip to Florida? Lifelong readers think more deeply about what they will read on their trip than what they will wear on their trip! Because it turns out that real readers rarely have 30 (or more) minutes of independent reading time scheduled into their day. Rather, lifelong readers read in what Donalyn calls “the edges.” They read while waiting—in line at the grocery store, the dentist’s waiting room, the son’s karate lesson. Readers fill the smallest pieces of white space in their day with reading.

    Lifelong Readers Successfully Self-Select Books

    Because lifelong readers spend lots of time reading, they need strategies for keeping themselves in books. Talk to any lifelong reader and he can tell you not only what he’s currently reading, but also what is “on deck” as well. This means we need to teach kids how to find the books that will interest them and sustain a voracious reading habit. Try…

    - helping your child use technology to find books. Teach them bookselling websites like Amazon usually have a “Customers who bought this book also bought…” Teach kids about social media sites for readers like Goodreads where readers really track and post their reading lives. You could also teach kids about twitter—they can follow authors, publishers, and bloggers to learn about the latest greatest texts that might interest them.

    - putting together what Donalyn calls “preview stacks” of books for your child. To create a preview stack, collect 4-5 books that might interest the reader. Prepare a little something to say about each book and why you included it in the stack.

    Lifelong Readers Have a Social Life Around Reading

    As far as lifelong readers are concerned, the next best thing to reading is talking about reading! Lifelong readers have a lot to say about reading. They can talk about pivotal moments in their reading lives (first library card, for example), favorite reading spots, favorite bookstores and libraries, ways that their identities and interests as readers have changed and grown, and, of course, books. Lifelong readers talk about books—everything from favorites titles, authors, series, settings, characters, themes—the list of ways that readers talk about books is long and varied.