Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is Reading?

I blog a lot about reading and teaching reading. I think reading is one of the most important things we teach kids. It can give them so much and take them so many places. This past week a fellow teacher was talking about her kids and how they were just memorizing the text in books. She was upset because they weren't using any of their strategies for figuring out words. They weren't blending words, segmenting words, or clapping out syllables. I heard say over and over that this wasn't reading and this wasn't how she operated. This got me thinking about reading and what it really is. We reread texts in my room. In fact for their homework this past week, they were to read the same poem every night. I plan on using this for homework for a while now. I had my students read books over and over in first grade and I think it improved their reading greatly. In fact this fluency practice was exactly what I just was sent by the school to a workshop to learn more about. I think there's a place for all these skills. Kids need to reread texts and be comfortable with this reading so they become confident. Once they are confident, they are more willing to sound words out and do all those other behaviors good readers do. So then it gets me thinking about my Daily 5 practice. If it doesn't do kids any good to practice reading books over and over what are my kids that aren't really reading yet getting out of it.  I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post. I just had the question "What is reading?" in my head all week. I've always thought that reading was a combination of fluency, comprehension and word attack skills. As we read when we're older, we don't think about the words that we read. It is all internalized.
What do you think reading really is?
For listening to my rambling about reading and what it is, I'm giving you a copy of our reading homework for the next week. I found the poem in a book all about poems and finger plays.
Click here to download homework from google docs.


  1. Kerri,

    I agree with you that reading is the most important thing we teach, especially in the primary grades. Do you ever, as an adult reader, find yourself using the strategies, like re-reading, making connections, etc? I like being aware of those as I read, but I think it's even more fun to just read along, without attention to the strategies. Sort of like riding a bike full speed, coasting down hill, feeling the breeze in your face, smiling the whole time. Do you know what I mean? The strategies are helpful, and hopefully we give the children a good start with them, but eventually we want them to enjoy the ride.

    Thanks for the download!

    First Impressions

  2. I have my students reread every week. Giving them a different purpose each time helps make the reread more enjoyable. But I do believe rereading is an important activity that students should be doing.

  3. I love a reflective post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. These are the kinds of conversations I love. It gets my juices going. I'm just sure anything I say will be especially enlightening, but it's what came to mind when I read your thoughts.

    I've heard it said, "A lot of easy reading makes reading easy." Familiar rereads are a great way for kids to practice easy reading and hopefully improve their use of strategies, comprehension, and fluency. One of the quotes that I love from Regie Routman says, "We no longer need to feel guilty that students are 'just reading.' Reading is probably the most worthwhile activity students can be doing." Reading is so much more important than doing stuff about reading. Richard Allington says, "The volume of daily in-school reading many children routinely experience is below an optimum level." I'm so glad gurus like these give us permission to let our kids read and read and read, so we don't have to feel guilty. It's time well spent. Keep the thoughts coming! I love them.
    Forever in First

  4. Every year I have multiple parents say to me that their child is just memorizing their book. I always give them reassurance and then ask them, "How many words are you sounding out? " Memorization is what makes readers fluent and fluency makes reading feel easy and fun. I always start my guided reading groups with a reread. I call this our warm up. I think your teaching reading philosophy is on target.