Day 61 (of 189) let me ‘mansplain’ something about reading from my privileged high horse: reading at home
I know that my point of view of this will make sense to many and be frustrating to others. But reading is important. Reading at home even more so. Today we had a PALS session (Parents As Literacy Supporters) and in my welcome I got to remind parents that they get to do something I wish I still could: read to and with their children. My teens awhile ago “passed” on our nightly reading tradition (even though I think I can still recite Chicken Pox verbatim) after going through a series of Dr Seuss, Robert Munsch, JK Rowling and many points in between. My kids saw and see me read and even when I am on my screen, much of the time I am diving into an ebook, not just youtube disney+ or the other reams of visual entertainment meant to keep us from being bored. And I loved that we had a parent for every child in our kindergarten class spend part of their day with us today! It shows that there is value! But I’m going to get on my high horse (mindful that I grew up in a household where reading was demonstrated as valuable and there was time for me to read….)
I am mindful that as a full-time teacher, the ” homework” I used to regularly assign: 15 minutes of reading each night; comes from a middle class mindset where my own parents had time to read to me (no shift wok) and enabled me to do the same (sometimes busy nights, but again, my work hours enabled me to shift my times around so I could always find time to read). And my own passion for books has meant I have always had way too many books for reading at all ages – can’t be a librarian without IAN is one of my bad teases.
And I know that for many, assigned reading homework is bad because:
- it is homework
- it makes reading a task
I want reading to be something we get to do, not something we have to do. Which is why my “homework list” of 15 minutes of reading, 10 minus of writing and 10 minutes of math games were more guidelines than actual rules.
I also found it timely that one of my favourite morning comics to read, “Betty” also had a reading theme https://www.gocomics.com/betty
Finding the magic in reading is important – having a role model to show that reading is valuable (and entertaining) even more so. Again “white middle class male” point of view here because I have always found reading easy, been able to afford books AND have the means to get to a public library, not to mention that my work schedule does allow me time to read for professional growth and for regulation and for entertainment. I know not everyone finds reading easy, fun or particularly worthwhile.
And if reading on the iPad….sheesh – Ive had some in-law moments where I get a “tsk tsk on the device again” and then point out that I’m doing the same as they are: reading. Just differently (which is triggering me when teachers get angry because of a distraction “caused by a screen” but react so differently if they are reading a paper tablet instead of paying attention – same distraction, different reaction. Sorry, I’ll regulate myself now)
So we already have different approaches to varied literacies – we are much more accepting of people saying I hate/can’t do math than we are I hate/can’t read – so how do we “make a difference? and I worry that shares such as recent ones by @pernilleripp https://pernillesripp.com/2019/11/27/my-daughter-will-not-be-left-behind/ misuse technology as a way to “improve” reading scores without improving the love of reading – decoding words rather than having the words become pictures. I love reading on my tablet – but it is not non sequiturs based on my reading level but choices made based on interest level; and I regularly pop between “independent texts”, instructional and frustrating tomes – either due to word choice or idea pushing…. but I make the choice to start….to stop… to intermingle….?
But do I have that choice because I am a white-ish male? I have been/am enabled to say “no thank you” to some things (maybe without such polite language) including my thoughts on literacies? I use tech books (eg epic) for students to have choice of a variety of books where they are (sometimes even going to the library can be angst inducing) but I promote CHOICE in this, not having an algorithm decide what I should read, but having internal debates over what I want to read – and trusting to serendipity; which is why I’m putting Range by David Epstein higher on my reading pile… but again, I have the time and ability to know that I will have time to read all the books on my stack – not every body or every family is so enabled.
So, I think I need to continue to support the word and works of my #PLN role models and continue to promote for:
- diversity of books available – let the kids see themselves in the books they read, even though October usually means it is time for Stone Fox (published in 1980…40 years ago….)
- reading to kids; at all ages; using picture books at all grade levels
- a variety of voices to be heard and images to be seen via the texts they have
- promote others (not the white male that is me) to champion the reading process – so that it is not just an “at school” activity, but something we get to do “at home” too!\
- finding the joy in literacy and passing it forward
But more so than that – I used the terms ‘mansplaining’ and my own “privileged” position to hopefully get some other eyes on this to give some other ideas and strategies to help keep reading an important skill – for learning and for enjoyment. Because I know that having a principal father benefited me seeing a value in reading. I know that being a white male has benefitted me in ways I am not fully aware of just because how so many of our formal systems have been set up – my struggles are not the same as others and I know that. Which is why I have pivoted from my “homework” assignment (reading writing math for enjoyment) to being suggestions knowing that peoples lives are complex; and “we” cannot put our value system on other families. Parents are not missing meetings because they don’t care about their kids. Families are not choosing not to read because they don’t agree it is important…but conversations are being held – a dad who admitted that he can’t read – not that he doesn’t want to; so many others that are painful to hear….but valuable to listen to.
Read. Read those stories that help turn the words into pictures. Read when it brings you joy. If the book is boring…put it down and put it away, but don’t give up – just like netflix, sometimes you pick something that should check all the boxes….but it doesn’t. But reading can be informative and entertaining….honest…. but if you don’t have time…don’t feel guilty – even I don’t have time to read every day….I mean I have time, but I choose not to on some days…. awkward…. so read – read blogs…tweets…the prose and poetry of this millennium. Don’t dismiss any reading – magazines and comics (I try not to buy into the graphic novel name-calling; but comics made me the reader I am today) online newspapers and short stories.
From my privileged position (because as a white male I do not have ‘the’ answers): find times to read for joy. It will make a difference.