13 September 2008

Reading and the Second Grade

Two weeks on, and the second grade has been a real transition for my daughter. I remember my time in second grade as unpleasant, but that is because I had a rather mean teacher (she had issues--but not my fault.) But my daughter, as far as I can tell, likes her teachers. She's friendly with most of the children in her class and is happy to see them, and they her. But she is daunted--with a capital D--at the thought of homework. Twenty minutes a night, two nights a week, is like torture--water torture, to be exact. And sadly, lumped into that hell that is known as homework, is reading.

I suspect that my daughter is already a reluctant reader (how can that be?! I'm a guru!) And this misery over homework is not helping the matter. My daughter and I have a set reading routine which has been in place since I started reading to her regularly at bedtime. She loves it. Threatening to take away stories at night is a legitimate punishment and wields mighty power. She could be read to all day. But she seems reluctant to do it herself. A few notable exceptions: non-fiction, American Girl catalogs, and picture books.

All this rambling is to lead up to a rather excellent essay in this month's Horn Book about helping parents chose books for their second graders. It was a good refresher read because it reinforced many things I have noticed in my experience with children at the library: the love of series fiction, the appeal of underpants, and the fear of long books. The author of the essay, teacher Robin Smith, even puts in a plug for picture books. Thank you! I cannot stress how often I have seen parents turn their noses up at picture books, never mind the kids. If we all remember that "picture book" is a term used to describe a format, not a level, the world would run much better. I'm convinced of that!


Susan T. said...

Hi! My son was not very interested in reading independently until the end of 2nd grade. Then he discovered Calvin & Hobbes, and things took off from there. Now a fourth grader, he still loves C & H and Garfield, and enjoys the Goosebumps books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and nonfiction.

From what I've seen, there is a lot of pressure on the children to read independently at school at that age--and some may not be ready for it.

Yankeerat said...

You're right about the pressure, and it's something I have to be careful not to feed. To me, reading independently is as natural as breathing, and was from an early age. But our children--they are their own people!

I'm glad your son found the right books for him, and I'm glad that comics helped to get him there!. Does he know that there is now a graphic novel series of Goosebump books? They are graphic retellings of some of the original stories. We own them here, not that I ever see them, because they are always in circulation!

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