Monday, January 14, 2013

Reading Stamina

Carrie Busey has a book club that started in November. Children in grades K-2 record how many minutes they read or someone reads to them, and then they turn in a sheet every 120 minutes. As X-man has been moving up in his reading from a level 6 to a level 14, the number of words per book (as expected) have been going up. Every Tuesday and Thursday parent volunteers very nicely go into the classroom and help each student in his class pick out two books. They get sheets to record how many times they read their books, and then they have to bring them back. X-man has a goal of reading each of his books twice before he returns them. They're called Baggie Books (because they come home in a Ziploc bag.)

When he read a level 6, he'd read me both of his books in one night. Now that he's moved up, I notice that he gets tired around 2/3 of the way through the book. When the books were easier, he could hold them himself and he wouldn't get distracted. Now, it works better, if I hold the book and move my finger under the words. I try to get him to do it, or to use a ruler, but he declines. But awful protests ring out if I point out that he skipped a line and that's why the story doesn't make sense.

His baggie books take him roughly 5-12 minutes to read, depending on the story. Right now he's got one about a family helping to rescue a fisherman on the beach that he breezes through and one about a family who lives near a river that has flooded their house, that he is less interested in, so it takes a while.

I'm starting to do some research on reading stamina, because when I read to him, he has giant comprehension stamina. I read a story. We talk about it. He hands me another. It goes through waves, but sometimes it's an hour a day of me reading to him. Sometimes (like if it's a graphic novel) he sits next to me or at the end end of the bed and gets really into the pictures while I read (or do sound affects, if it's a Star Wars book), but other times, if it's a picture book, he just plays quietly on the floor with something. Then he answers questions about the book at the end or he starts a conversation about it.

Sometimes, I think it's trouble, all this reading I do versus making him do. But he understands and processes the story and the ideas. And I keep reminding myself that he needs to be at a level 16 by the end of 2nd grade to be "at grade level," so he's got time to get to 16 and to pass it, even, before May. In fact, I told him when he goes back to school on Tuesday, to try a level 15, since the rescue one was so easy for him.

In my bag of tricks, I get a lot of "you read/I read" books. We started doing this when he was in kindergarten and was tired of reading to himself. So I read the parts of Gerald the Elephant in Mo Willems' Piggie and Elephant books and he was Piggie. Nowadays, I can find Usbourne books at the library that do the same thing. Right now we're reading a book about school poems that works the same way. If we read together, for whatever reason, he can go much, much longer than if he's reading by himself. In a way, I think he just likes that it's a partner effort.

But I love that we're working hard at trying, right? I mean, he loves being read to, so hopefully, one day, he'll love reading to himself as much as he loves being read to. Until then, we're turning in a blue sheet every 2-3 days at school.

The Tolono Library is also having a winter reading program, where the kids record how many minutes they read for prizes. But the trick is that he has to read to himself. He's doing pretty okay. He's averaging about 10 minutes a day, which will get him to the 300 minutes mark by the end of the club, but if he really wants a football prize, he's going to have to kick it up a notch.

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