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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Drop Everything and Read
By Rachel Rudd
01/30/07


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”I can’t do it! I’ll never be able to read.” Alex slammed the primary reader against the wall and retreated to his room.

“Alex, you get back down here!” His mom yelled after him. “You have to be able to read this if you are ever going to get out of second grade!” Her words echoed against the wallpapered walls. Everyday, everyday it was the same thing. She tried to read the required twenty minutes for Alex’s homework, but he normally gave up after five. She just didn’t know what to do.

“Hello, Mrs. Inkelwater? This is Mrs. Real, Alex’s Mom.”

“Oh, hello. What can I do for you today?”

“I don’t know what to do. I try to get Alex to read but we end getting so frustrated with each other because he can’t understand the words. I just don’t understand why he can’t read. It was so simple for me. Both my husband and I love to read.”

“I understand your frustrations. In reading class, Alex is very withdrawn. He never takes part in any discussion unless I call on him. When he works in small groups, I’ve noticed that he gets the answers from the other students instead of reading for himself. There is one thing that I’ve seen him enjoy though. At the beginning of every class, we have a short novel that we are reading. Right now, we are reading Pippy Longstocking. Alex hangs on every word as I read.”

“Wow, I thought he hated books.”

“No, I don’t think he hates books, Mrs. Real. I think he just doesn’t understand them and so he gets frustrated with himself because he wants to read. Can I make a suggestion?”

“Sure.”

“Why don’t you try reading to him instead of having him read?”

“Will that help? I thought the point of the homework was to get him to read.”

“It is, but I think in this case it will help me if he hears you reading and follows along in the book. I also think you should come to our workshop next Friday. It’s called “Teaching Your Kids to Read.” I think you might learn a lot of good ideas there.”

“That sounds great. I’ll be there.”

************************************
“How many of you have sat with your child about to pull your hair out because they could not read the word ‘cat’?” The workshop instructor posed the question and a roomful of hands rose in the air.

“Well, today we want to give you some tools to use when you are reading with your child. The first thing we want to talk about is called the “build-a-word” box. Is there anyone that would like to volunteer to be a child so I can demonstrate how this works?”

“I have a box full of letters of the alphabet. Would you like to play a game with me?” He asked the parent volunteer.

“I can’t.” She responded as her child would. “I don’t know how to read.”

“Oh, you don’t have to read.” He replied. “All you have to do is to know your letters and what sounds they make. Would you like to try now?”

“Yes, okay.”

“Here are two letters. “A” and “T.” What sounds do they make?”

“A.”

“Well, that’s right, but it also makes another sound if you open your mouth halfway and put your tongue against the bottom of your mouth.”

“Aaaaaaaaaa.” The parent mouthed.

“That’s right. Now how about this “T?”

“T says “t.”

“Exactly. Just like you were slamming your hand down in the air.”

“Now what happens when you join the two together? Aaaa---ttt”

“It says aa-tt. AT! Hey, I just read a word!”

“Now what would happen if I put this “S” in front of it?”

She slowly sound out the words. “Sss—aaa—ttt. Ss-aa-tt. S-A-T. SAT!”

Exactly. That, ladies and gentleman, is how easy it can be for your kids. We’ll move on to some other strategies after you all get a chance to make a “build-a-word” box in your groups.”

************************************

“Hey Mom, what book did you get for us to read tonight?” Alex questioned his mother. Can we read The Adventures of Paddington Bear?”

“Sure,” his mom replied. After that, we can play our word game again. Would you like that?”

“You bet. I might even let you win!”


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Member Comments
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Allison Egley 02/02/07
Hehe From the title, I thought this was going to be about my favorite time in school... DEAR [Drop Everything And Read] time. As an Elementary education major, I had to cringe at the mother's initial response. lol Great read over all.
Kathie Thomas02/03/07
We were fortunate to have children who enjoyed reading, but then their father read to them every single night, with all 5 lying around him on the one bed. Story time was fun time with dad - mum didn't have the patience!

Thanks for a great story and insight to what it's like for kids who struggle with this wonderful pasttime.
Jan Ackerson 02/03/07
Oh dear, I wish the mother had been gentler at the beginning--I'm glad that you transformed her through the workshop. Very educational article, and this was a good way to present this material (in a story form, rather than as an instructional essay).

FYI--it's Pippi, not Pippy.

My heart goes out to those who struggle with reading--I wish there were more who would take advantage of workshops like this.