For someone who loves books and reading as much as I do, some might find it odd that I am such a non-fan and poor participant in home reading programs schools dream up. I am part of the madness too though. I follow the protocol at our school and assign home reading to my students. I don't require signatures for how long people read though, so I feel good about that. We do send a little book home each week - which probably takes a minutes or so to read. Then they are encouraged to read whatever they want. I really wonder how often it really gets done. I ask parents to initial every time a child reads. I have noticed that sometimes all the days are initialed when the week hasn't even had enough days for all those initials.
...things that make teachers go hmmmm....
I have to admit though, I totally get it. I've never been good at home reading programs with my own kids. My kids have always read a lot, but I'm terrible at keeping track of how much time they've read, and I'm really terrible at listening to them read in French - which is what we're supposed to do. I've often thought it was odd that in a French Immersion program where they say they understand that the parents don't speak French and accomodate that, why they want us to listen to kids read in French. I can't really give any correction or feedback. And besides that, it's plain awful to have to listen to something that you absolutely don't understand.
...well, I sort of understand. Now and then there's a noun I get, and I hear the repetition of verbs, and some words stick out - but it doesn't stick in my head. And I usually have no idea what he is reading about. I never really worried about it much. Most teachers don't follow up. That last two years though, Peirce's teachers have often followed up, as a result, we are doing more French home reading.
All this makes me wonder if this is how parents of ELL students feel. Is it as painful for them to listen to a kid read aloud? My guess is, it probably is.
That being said, I think I have found a secret. I have read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane a number of times, and am reading it again with my grade 3 book club right now. I found a copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in French (L'odyssée miraculeuse d'Edouard Toulaine) and I am understanding a little more of what he reads because I'm quite familiar with the story.
The best part is how much he is enjoying it. Without getting into the ugly description of it all, generally I have to make my son read aloud to me each day. Yesterday we had our usual, "It's time to read." followed with, "I don't want to right now. I'm hungry." (just minutes earlier I had asked him to eat his supper and he wasn't hungry....he was very busy playing with his DS) There's plenty of huffing and stomping and complaining...and then the reading starts. I had been telling him how great the book is. Tonight he finally caught it. His finished a chapter and he stopped and stared off into space. I asked why he was doing that and he replied that he just felt so sad. He said he didn't want to read this book anymore because it just made him so sad.
My heart leaped. Yea! Sadness is good! When the emotions of a book get into your heart, then you know you're really getting it.
He was really getting it.
A fabulous discussion ensued. We talked about why Edward was so unfeeling, and why he was now finally feeling fear. We talked about how sad it would be to lose something you love. My son wondered how Abilene felt as Edward fell overboard the ship. He wondered how the rabbit felt. His sister even interjected asking why the rabbit was afraid he would dround, after all, he's just a toy and doesn't breathe. He quickly corrected that Edward does have feelings and so it makes sense he'd be afraid. Our discussion went on about what happens later in the book and the connections there are to biblical stories of Jesus. Honestly, it was a fabulous conversation.
Which took me back to the idea....it just takes the right book. Even in French.