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Reading is Amazing

Lower School
From Lower School Librarian, Stacy Dillon:
Let’s face it -- reading is amazing. Understandably, it is one of my favorite things to do! I fondly remember getting so deeply into a book, I didn’t hear my mother call me to dinner. From a very young age, I could be counted on to have a library book at my side to keep me occupied. As a parent, I have tried to pass on my love of reading to my daughters, and I’ve sought to get out of their way as they travel their reading lives. There have been times, however, when I have stopped them and asked questions regarding their reading choices, and I have asked them to wait on certain titles.
Often, parents resist saying no to child’s book choice because they want to support their child's interest in reading. At the same time, we, as the adults, must balance honoring children’s interests and passions with our understanding of their developmental needs in order to create a deeply immersive experience for them as young readers. It is often the case that children’s reading skills are well ahead of their emotional skills. Books written for older tweens, teens and adults understandably have darker and more sophisticated themes than books solidly aimed at children as authors seek to engage with themes that will resonate with the reader’s own experience. While some children are completely capable of reading the text, they will likely be unable to tease out the nuances or the deeper messages within. And sadly, most children do not return to a series they read when they were younger.

Additionally, books are often marketed quite widely. An age range often quoted on books is 8-12. When we take time to think about that, the age range spans from second through seventh grade and in my experience, there are few titles that are of interest in the same way to an 8-year-old as to a 12-year-old. It’s all quite confusing, and parents and caregivers are left wondering how best to support their emerging readers.
There are some tools that you can use to guide you in helping your child select books. One concrete way to gauge the appropriateness of the book is to look at the age of the protagonist. If the main character is 17-years-old, chances are the book is not for your fourth grader. You can also check reviews for books that you are hearing about. If you search a title on amazon and then click on the “Editorial Reviews,” the first one to pop up is often from School Library Journal. Reviews from this publication are all written by professional librarians, and each review starts with a recommended grade range. Lastly, a tool that has proven helpful across media over the past few years is the site Common Sense Media.
We are currently in a golden age of children’s literature. For every children’s book that has been made into a movie, there are many gems of which you may not be aware. At LREI, we have the gift of 4 librarians across the divisions who read incredibly widely, review professionally, and are writers themselves, to help guide you in helping your children select books which are just right for them. I would also encourage you to take advantage of the incredible youth services librarians working across the public libraries in all 5 boroughs. In this neighborhood alone, Rebecca Schosha at the Jefferson Market Library and Stevie Feliciano at the Hudson Park Library are incredible resources.
Lastly, here are some tips in engaging in your children’s reading lives.
  • Read the book first. If you have questions about whether a popular title is right for your child, give it a read.
  • Ask your child why they are interested in the book. Is it because “everyone” is reading it? What aspect of the plot do they find intriguing?
  • Read aloud. Even if your child is reading independently, having a family read aloud is invaluable. Reading aloud makes titles that are stretches for your child’s understanding more accessible. You can have discussions about parts that may be confusing.
  • Audio books! Listening (as with reading aloud) provides more entry points into complicated titles. Get some audio books for that next long car ride and have a family read.
  • Say no. It’s okay to tell your child that a book may not be for them right now. It’s okay for your child not to be reading a super popular title. “I’m saving it for later”, is language that can help them navigate peer questions.
Why not take the opportunity over spring break to start a family read? If you need any suggestions for titles, we’d be happy to help. Please come see us in the library!

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