As babies and itty-bitties, we read to our children a lot. I remember the days with the heavy body leaning into mine as we flipped the pages of my son’s favorite books like There’s a Wocket in My Pocket and Peek-A-Who. When he got a little bit older, we loved Dino Baseball and Strega Nona, and eventually graduated to the I Survived book series.
As an avid reader and lover of literature myself, I cherished our time spent reading together. I loved the rhymes and rhythms of children’s books, seeing his chubby fingers pointing at the pictures, and giggling together at the silly parts of the stories we shared. By reading to him every day, I knew I was doing one of the best things to help him in the future with his education, learning and general curiosity.
As my son got into elementary school, we read chapter books aloud together. He needed to practice reading because he was struggling with it. He was behind the grade-level benchmarks until the end of sixth grade. We continued reading aloud through all of the elementary years, and it was a huge benefit to both of us.
The Birth of an Idea
I remember when my son brought home his first chapter book from school that his entire elementary school was reading together. It was called The World According to Humphrey, and is about a classroom hamster’s adventures in elementary school. At first, I was overwhelmed at the thought of my son trying to read this book on his own. Would he understand it or would it be too difficult? Would he be able to do the work associated with reading the book? How will this work out for him?
Instead of worrying, I decided to read along with him. After he was asleep at night, I read the short book and enjoyed the silly hamster’s antics. It didn’t take very long to read this book, and it was an engaging story.
After I finished it, I asked my son some basic questions about it like: What happens in the story? Who are the hamster’s friends? Which part did you like best? It was awesome to connect with my child over a book we’d both read on our own. Hearing his thoughts and opinions was great! Then, he asked me which parts I liked best. I remember laughing with him over this crazy hamster’s mischief.
And thus began my reading along with every single novel my son has read in school. Together, we have discussed nine books with more to come! (Our full reading list is below.) I love love love the conversations that we’ve had about these books.
Having someone to talk with about these novels outside of school is beneficial to my son. It gives him a super safe place to admit that he didn’t quite understand part of a story or to share an opinion that may be unpopular. I think that our conversations give him a better grasp on the story as a whole so that he can think critically about the characters and events, going deeper as he’s gotten older.
Now that my son is in 9th grade, I continue reading along with him. Right now, we are reading Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Next quarter, we’ll be onto The Hunger Games. What a thrill to read alongside my boy! I look forward to a few more years of this partnership. Plus, it will be fun to give him my copies of these books once he is older so that he can share these stories and pages with his own children. (Or, maybe I can read a few with my grandkids!)
Do you read along with your kid’s school books? Which one has been your favorite? Drop a comment!
Gretchen and Matthew’s Reading List:
- The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
- Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan