Raising Bookworms

Like most new parents, when my first daughter was born we started reading to her right away.  All the parenting books said to do it, all our friends said to do it - establish a routine, foster a love for reading, blah blah blah.  So we did it.  Every day.  Every night before bed.  Even when I knew deep down there was no way this baby understands wtf we're reading to her.  But we did it.  It was time to wind down for both her and for us.  Fast forward seven years later and lo and behold, it worked!  We really did foster a love for reading with our kid!!!

Granted, she didn't actually really learn to read books until Kindergarten, but her growth and interest in books has steadily increased these past two years.  Av has always been a quiet but passionate child, and when she has feelings, she has FEELINGS.  So when she gets upset, she gets UPSET, which can sometimes translate to tantrums and crying for a loooong time.  Or what feels like a loooong time to me.

I remember when she had just turned four, she had a tantrum that lasted over two hours.  As she's gotten older, the tantrums have lessened in length. but they haven't disappeared.  I usually send her to her room to calm down, belly breathe and control her "monster" (thank you Sesame Street) but it's still a battle.  Only lately has she really been able to control her "monster" and it's been through reading.  She'll cry and scream all the way to her room, usually followed by a door slam, and then after about 10 minutes she'll stop because she's got her head buried in a book.

The first time it happened, I slowly approached her room to check on her to see if she was alright, and found her in her rocking chair reading a Junie B. Jones book.  I was amazed.  She was simply over whatever had bothered her, she had no interest in keeping the fight going, she was just enthralled with what she was reading.  And from that moment on, anytime she starts to get upset, or in a fight with her sister (which feels like always), I tell her to go to her room to calm down and read.  Sometimes it doesn't work, but thankfully (for my sanity), most of the time it does.

It's been important to us as parents to take the girls to the library to check out real books.  They each have their own library cards and they get to check out books they want to read and a couple books we want them to read.  Our library is also great because we can check out books digitally and read on our Kindles, but there's something about having a real book in hand so they can see how many pages they've read and how much is left to go.

This week we had a parent-teacher conference with Av's teacher and she told us that based on the standardized tests, Av's reading level back in September was at a 2.4 grade level and her most recent test taken last week has her at a 3.6 grade level.  That blew me away.  All those tantrums have really paid off!!!  I kid, I kid!  But seriously, I know it's a bit braggadocious, but I'm so damn proud.  This little person I made can read!  And she likes it!

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