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Literacy and Beginner Readers

Educational experts are enthusiastic in promoting exposure to literature, and exposure from a young age, as the key to reading success. Language, thinking and literacy development are fostered by regular reading.

Enjoying and sharing books has been played a huge role in our family culture over the years, however at times it has ebbed rather than flowed.  I was recently discussing these tides with a friend and reflecting on how this may have affected the ages our children began reading. My friend had noted a similar pattern in her own home.

When our older children were young we enjoyed a huge amount of literature together.  We read many picture books daily and once our oldest turned four we would often read 2-3 chapter books consecutively.  Hours upon hours were devoted to literature, a rich and rewarding lifestyle.  However as the years rolled on, we introduced screen time, our family size increased, the children grew older, we juggled meeting the needs of a wide age spread there have been times when literature has been pushed to the side.  Sad to say long periods where read alouds were minimal.  Whilst our oldest have had a rich exposure to literature, our middle set and in turn our younger ones have not had this same richness. As I reflect on the ages our children began to read and the literacy tide in our family I perceive a connected pattern.

Reading involves a few stages; beginning, functional, independent and reading for pleasure.
Our eldest daughter began reading at five and was reading independently and for pleasure shortly before seven. Our older two boys were later, they began reading in their sixth years, were functionally and independently reading at seven and reading for pleasure at eight.  These were the years of our literacy high.

Michelangelo was much later at reading, like his brothers he learnt his sounds before seven but  took a long time to move forward, he was ten before he was reading regularly for pleasure. The girls picked up sounds effortlessly like their older sister; though a few months later than she did, however like Michelangelo they took longer to catch the ‘reading bug.’  Actually  Princess could read independently earlier than her brothers, at seven but wasn’t interested in reading for pleasure until late eight. Jelly Bean at seven reads at a functional level but her interest isn’t always high. These were the years of our literacy ebbs and flows.

Reflections: Has the fact that the middle three been exposed to far less literacy had an impact on their interest in reading?  I suspect so.
Has the fact that I have had less energy to ‘encourage’ them in reading more consistently produced later readers?  I often wonder.

However all thus far have learnt to read well and by eleven it would be difficult to discern any differences despite the various ages they became readers.  Certainly they are all avid readers once they discover the pleasure reading brings.

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  • Sue Elvis

    Hi Erin. I think our youngest missed out on a lot of picture book sharing. However, she listened in on the books I was reading out loud to the older kids. And so she was exposed to stories that I would have thought too advanced for her. She enjoyed them! I still feel a little sad when I realise I didn't share all the old favourite little people's books with her though.

    I think you are right: everyone catches up at some point in time. Early readers or late readers, as long as a love of reading comes eventually, it doesn't really matter.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, yes, thinking about this a fair bit at the moment with one struggling reader, one lazy reader and one slack mummy! I read Beechick's booklet last night and really looking forward to discussing it next week. Apart from that, I'm really hoping to get more reading in to our days over the next term, as well as more art, music and unit studies. One can hope, right?


  • Leanne

    You are so right Erin, But it is hard to juggle everything, and spend lots of time reading. Dermot has just taken to reading to Brid at night again. now its not for literacy time, because as you know she is an avid reader- its for memories and daddy and daughter time.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Vicky

    It's good to hear that other people have experienced this ebb and flow with literature, Erin – it makes the lean times seem more acceptable somehow.

    In our family, most of the kids learnt to read at a similar age, but I think that the reading for pleasure stage came a lot later with our two older boys. They missed out a lot on the read alouds and, even though they enjoy reading now, I wonder if they will ever have the same love of books that their siblings have. They just don't seem to share their passion for a good read. But, I guess the passion could still grow – they have become bored with computer games and TV, lately, so maybe they are catching up with this stage, now.

  • Dawn Farias

    "However all thus far have learnt to read well and by eleven it would be difficult to discern any differences despite the various ages they became readers. Certainly they are all avid readers once they discover the pleasure reading brings. "

    This is encouraging for me, thank you.

  • Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website

    This whole post encourages me…thank you, Erin!

    A couple of my youngest children have proven to be "late" readers and I have often ridiculed myself for many of the reasons you mentioned here…lack of time, lack of energy, lack of "whatever"…it just seems that years ago, we had so much more opportunity to simply linger with the Littles and pour our hearts into books almost directly from the womb!

    I am happy and relieved to hear that you are noticing no distinct difference by age eleven. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Erin

    'as long as a love of reading comes eventually'
    So true:)

    Maybe it might be easier to pick ONE are and work with it first.

    Wonderful memories they are creating:)

    Glad to help it seem more 'acceptable'. My brother didn't read for pleasure till 14 and now he constantly reads.

    glad to encourage, and welcome to my blog.

    I'm so honoured that I touched you:){} Never too late to change our discouragement, one book at a time.

  • The Book Chook

    (Erin, I'm linking back from Planning with Kids blog.)

    This is an observation that interests me, because literacy is my passion. It seems to me you've transmitted a love for reading in different ways with your kids, but the outcome has been the same. They all love books! How fortunate they are, and I believe their imaginations will be so much better developed than kids who don't have that gift.

  • Erin

    Book Chook

    Have long loved your blog:) so honoured to see you here:)
    Love to dialogue on this, "you've transmitted a love for reading in different ways with your kids"
    do you mean different ways to each other, or different ways to…?"
    They have indeed been blessed by the gift of literacy.

  • The Book Chook

    Erin, I meant different ways because your family structure changed. As you had more children, there was less time perhaps to read aloud, or the older kids may have read to younger ones – things that didn't happen with your first children. Your older children and your younger children all love to read though. For me, that was the take-away point. Does that make sense?

  • Erin

    Book Chook,

    Makes sense:) To be totally honest I spent a LONG time mourning the time with the olders once it was gone. Focused now on rediscovering old friends with the younger ones:)

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