The Feel of a Book
© Beverley Paine, 2004
Books come in all shapes, sizes and thickness. Some have pictures, some don't. Some are made from paper; some are made from cloth, some from card. Don't discriminate and judge some books as better than others. Let the reader take what he or she needs from each book, magazine, article, comic, or whatever. Know that whenever a child sees a book or magazine or picture book or rag book in your hand you are learning and having fun.
It doesn't matter what we read, we always learn something we didn't know before. It may be about what's in the book - a piece of information - or it may be a revelation about human nature, or about the self. Or it could be about how words are put together to make meaning, the role of punctuation or grammar...
Know that whenever you see a child reading he or she is learning something and having fun. It doesn't matter what they are reading. Enjoy the fact that he is happily reading something that has caught his attention for more than a moment and that the habit of reading is growing in his mind. There's a good chance this kid will never experience the tedium of boredom!
It's always concerned me that young children are encouraged to read mostly for pleasure at school, and that the focus on learning to read uses mostly fictional texts. I see few adults reading for pleasure, but every adult I meet reads for information almost continuously. Children see us reading from information as infants. By sharing what we find out from the words we read we teach children why we read, and why they will want to learn to read too. Reading gives us power: real learning power. And that's exciting to young people.
You can also encourage children to share information from their reading. You can do this even if they aren't reading yet by letting them know that their continuous gaze at a piece of writing is valued by you as 'reading.' I would often ask Thomas to 'read' what was on the cereal box, or in the advert he was gazing at. Even though he couldn't read the words he always gave me a reasonably accurate account, having gathered contextual hints from any pictures, or the nature of the material or book or sign he was looking at.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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