As a parent, you will only live through your child's fourth grade year one time. As a teacher, I've lived through fourth grade more than 20 times. Trust me when I tell you that in almost every case, your child will make it through "That Reading Phase."
Some children come into fourth grade, find the graphic novels in the classroom or school library, and proceed to exist on a reading diet comprised almost exclusively of graphic novels. You might think your child will never read a book with pages full of text, but what you're missing is that your child is reading voraciously. And in about January or February, your child will be full to the brim of graphic novels and ready to try some of the other books that the teacher or his/her friends recommend.
Other children come into fourth grade and pick right up with the series they were reading in 3rd grade: Geronimo Stilton or Magic Tree House or Rotten School. That's fine. That's why I have these comfortable, familiar friends in my classroom library. I also have a few books in lots of other series so that when they're ready, I can introduce them to new characters who will become comfortable, familiar friends. I don't have a problem with readers who love a series. Lots of adults are series readers. But it is my goal in fourth grade to teach children the strategies they will need to choose a stand-alone book and enjoy characters and stories on a one-book basis. I model this during read aloud time when as a class we enjoy a book together. Parents can help to balance a series reader's reading diet by reading aloud to their child.
Many children come into fourth grade lacking the reading stamina it takes to sit still and concentrate for 30 or more minutes of silent reading. They read picture books and browse the nonfiction books and I despair that they will ever sit still for anything longer than 32 pages of words and pictures. But then March rolls around, and I look up from my desk and there they are, thoroughly engrossed in THE YEAR OF THE DOG, and hoping that I have THE YEAR OF THE RAT for them to read next, and excited to hear about WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON.
One of the things that works in favor of prying your child out of "That Reading Phase" is that in fourth grade, the social nature of reading starts to catch up with their reading ability. They want to read the books that are being made into movies, and they want to read the books that their friends are recommending. They love to talk about books and have opinions about books. Fourth grade is a perfect time to start a parent/child reading club with some of your child's friends. If you start reading and discussing books with your child now, you will open doors for conversations you never would have been able to have without the help of the story or the characters in the books.
If your child is currently in a reading phase that you are feeling will never end, try to relax and live with it for a few more months. Keep them reading and reading and reading, even if it's not the kind of book you want them to to be reading for the rest of their lives, or even a year from now. Take them to the library and require them to bring home a variety of genres. Listen to books on tape in the car. And finally, remember that your child will never get too old for read aloud. One of the best gifts you can give to your child is to read to them from both the books they love and the ones you love.
This post is a part of Share a Story, Shape a Future, an annual blog event to promote literacy, celebrate books, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and readers everywhere. This year's theme was "It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader."
Each day a different kidlitosphere blogger served as host for the posting of several other bloggers. Visit the host blogs' sites to find a complete blog roll for each day.
March 8th: The Many Faces of Reading
Host: Terry Doherty at Scrub-A-Dub-Tub
Topics of the day encompassed the relationship aspect of helping children learn to read: parent-child and teacher-parent partnerships, literacy outreach; and libraries, to name a few.
March 9th: Literacy My Way/Literacy Your Way
Host: Susan Stephenson at The Book Chook
Creative literacy in all its forms (writing, art, computers) was the topic of the day.
March 10th: Just the Facts: The Nonfiction Book Hook
Host: Sarah Mulhern at The Reading Zone
This was the day for exploring the different genres of nonfiction (biography and memoir, science, nature, math, etc), as well as the use (or not) of historical fiction.
March 11th: Reading Through the Ages: Old Faves & New Classics
Host: Donalyn Miller at The Book Whisperer
Bloggers shared thematic book lists that include newer titles and the classics we loved as kids.
March 12th: Reading for the Next Generation
Host: Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson's Book Page
On this day, talk is about how to approach reading when your interests and your child's don't match. It may be that you don't like to read but your child does, how to raise the reader you're not, and dealing with the "pressure" of feeling forced to read.
** The Share a Story, Shape a Future logo was created by Elizabeth Dulemba, children's book author and illustrator, and SaS/SaF contributor.