Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Raising up the next crop of readers

I'm still tutoring young readers through the United Way's Reading Pals initiative. This year I again have a 3rd grade girl, and I suspect that will be my "default setting" as long as I'm in the program. As much as I love working with younger readers just discovering books, there's a sense of urgency with the 3rd graders. Some have already been held back. All will be expected to read and comprehend chapter books by the time they're in 4th grade. In addition, reading as a skill isn't taught past 3rd grade so I want to do my best to help them learn how books work; what it means to read an unknown word and figure it out from context, how to get a feel for the author's structure of the writing, and, perhaps most importantly, how to enjoy reading.

My pupil this year is Camille (not her real name), and she's been an intriguing student. I've been coaxing her along,  trying to figure out what piques her interest and so far, it seems to be Disney princesses.

I'm OK with that. As I always tell the kids, "I don't care what you're reading, as long as you read. Read a cereal box. Read a comic book. Read anything that interests you. Like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you become at it."

So last week we read a classic telling of Puss in Boots and discussed how it compares to Shrek--what's the same, what's different. We read Rapunzel and compared it to Tangled. This week I have a book about brave princesses and, of course, we'll compare it to Brave.

As a romance reader and writer I understand the value of storytelling with plucky heroines who save the day, or at least don't wait around waiting for their prince to come. Most importantly, I hope to convey the idea that reading for fun is a huge part of my life, and the same is true for many other people. By the end of the year I hope to have Camille bop into our sessions excited to tell me about something enjoyable (maybe with princesses) she read over the past week. We're not quite there yet, but we're making progress.

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