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Chris James

A parent's responsibility....

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I really don't like seeing headlines like the one on this article:

http://news.msn.com/us/us-children-read-but-not-well-or-often-report

The well being of society depends upon a child's abilities to absorb facts and contribute as they grow older. How is that even possible if they don't read? Kids need to be exposed to the written word in the years before they enter school and that is a parental responsibility.

You start off reading picture books to your child and at some point they read them back to you and that feels like quite an accomplishment as a parent. So what is it that has derailed this form of imparting knowledge to our children?

A key statement in this article says they did not account for children who read on electronic media, and I doubt if they could come up with a figure for that. From time to time we have discussed in this forum that books are slowly going the way of the dinosaurs and that e-books are taking their place. I could accept...not like it, mind you...that paper is being replaced by an electronic equivalent, until the batteries run out.

How are we to cope when a child will not read for pleasure? So many of societies values are imparted in books of fiction. Words in the proper sequence define some of our most important emotions, and beyond that they are instructive. Imagine the reader who cannot decipher the instructions on a piece of furniture from Ikea, or the technical operating manual for that new electronic gizmo they just purchased.

I think a parent is responsible for disciplining a child and must stay alert to their needs which includes reading and other forms of education. But I see adults with their electronics playing games and wonder if this is the source of the failure to communicate to their kids the importance of reading a book. They won't know until their child flunks a class or fails to obtain a job, and by that point it will be too late.

Reading, writing, arithmetic...the fundamentals of education, and I am beginning to think all else is bunk and a waste of time.

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I've mentioned before I have a friend, a woman, who teaches fourth grade. I've helped her now and then with her advanced math students, taking them while she works with the majority of the class on more basic material. Of course, now with common core math, none of the kids get it, not even the bright ones. But that's off topic.

She reads a book to her class at least 45 minutes a day. There are very, very good books for kids of all ages. Most fourth graders are 10, and there are a plethora of books for ten-year-olds that stir their imaginations and whet their appetites for more.

She has shelves of books in her classroom and encourages the kids to take a book home with them . Because she reads to them, they do that. All copies of the book she's currently reading to them are almost always gone the same day she begins a book. Books by the same author fly off her shelves, too.

Chris is right, the parents need to read to their kids and encourage them to read. Teachers should be doing the same thing. My friend doesn't tell them they should read at home, but instead shows them every day how much fun they can have through reading, and makes reading available to them. They take advantage of it. The reading test scores in her classroom are way above average for fourth grade students.

I agree it's a tragedy if kids aren't reading. But it's the adults' in their lives fault. Kids are kids, and can be molded however we see fit.

C

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You jolted my memory of my grandmother reading to me in bed. No, don't go there, I was only 7 years old.

Anyway she would read stories, like Noddy, to me from her English Woman's Weekly. The reason I can read is probably due to her.

Cole, I guess your friend is not reading the Bible to her class. We already have enough illiterate Christianist Republicans.

My second year English teacher abandoned his curriculum to tell us stories of how he discovered his love of good books, poetry and plays. He had everyone reading at home that very same night and he didn't have to tell us to do it either.

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If my grandparents ever read to me, I don't remember it. Both my parents did, however. My father loved reading all of us the Oz books. Does anyone know those books? L. Frank Baum wrote ten or twelve, I think, and then Ruth Plumbly Thomson took over, writing more Oz books than Baum had.

I was read Robert Louis Stevenson, too. Those were great, especially Kidnapped.

C

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I can remember pestering my teacher to start reading lessons. My excuse? I was five. By about the age of seven, I had a reading age in the teens and, with help of my father, paid weekly visits to the town library. I don't think any schoolteacher until I was 11 taught me anything about science that I didn't already know from books.

A process started by a teacher to get the reading speed up as some kids were very slow was eagerly seized on by me and by the time of the last speed test, I was clocking 1300 words per minute and passing with ease the comprehension exercise she set. At 10 years of age. My grandfather didn't believe it and tested me with a book from his collection so I had no previous knowledge of it. He too had to admit I could do it.

Has to be said though, if a story is well written, I slow down. I do use many of the published speed reading 'tricks' although in my case, they all were found independently by me as the one thing I hadn't read - was a speed reading guide.

Shame I'm now deaf as I'd always planned on being a visiting adult for kids to read to at school on my retirement. Teachers need a lot of help with the 5 to 11 olds as although I live in an affluent area, some parents quite simply do not help their kids enough. This I think is the core of the article. What is needed is a friendly adult to impress upon them that with an unillustrated book, or a radio play - the pictures are better. The only limitation is the scope of ones own imagination.

If only I could write at the same speed...

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I think parents are a lot busier now than when I was growing up. Most families have two income earners, which means two tired parents, sometimes grouchy, and with not as much interest in reading to their kids. Being read to really introduces kids to books and makes them love them and eager to learn. I just wonder if it happens as often now as it did fifty years ago.

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I think parents are a lot busier now than when I was growing up. Most families have two income earners, which means two tired parents, sometimes grouchy, and with not as much interest in reading to their kids. Being read to really introduces kids to books and makes them love them and eager to learn. I just wonder if it happens as often now as it did fifty years ago.

We made the time to read to our kids. There are a lot of kids books that are easy and fun to read, especially those like the Hairy Maclary set of books that rhyme and have a good rhythm. I especially loved Slinky Malinki...

Slinky Malinki was blacker than black;

a stalking and lurking adventurous cat.

He had bright yellow eyes and warbling wail,

and a kink at the end of his very long tail.

That was the opening stanza from memory, so my apologies if I got it wrong :smile:

After that, we moved onto books that the boys were able to read themselves, with help. There was a great set that involved two young boy characters, and were written more like a screenplay. The boys had fun reading one part each, while I took the part of the narrator.

Our eldest boy didn't like reading, but we kept pushing him, starting with comics (the Footrot Flats series, which I'm lucky enough to own the first eighteen) and then an variety of children's novels. He eventually became hooked on the Percy Jackson series. From there, his reading took off.

The younger boy never had a problem with reading. He's now into computer games, but that still encourages reading because he visits the associated wiki pages online to learn more about how to play the games, as well as picking up odd bits of trivia. He was introduced to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books through a computer game when he read an online fictitious account of Slartibartfast describing how the planets in the Kerbel Space Program game could be constructed (all the while denying that those planets were, in fact, built by his people). I bought him the books last year and he devoured them in a couple of days.

There are lots of opportunities to encourage kids to read. The key is to find something that interests them. If it's first-person shooter games, then get them some books on weapons or tactics. Finding age-appropriate books in that genre may be difficult, but persevere...sooner or later you'll stumble across something that interests them.

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When I was in kindergarten and the first grade I remember sitting next to my dad or my mom and we'd read a children's book together. They made a game of it. They'd read the first paragraph, and I'd read (or try to read) the next paragraph. Then they'd read a paragraph, and I'd read a paragraph, and so on. After a while I'd say "I'll read it to you!" and read the entire book to them. There were always books being read at our house. I got a kid's library card and we'd go to the library every Saturday and I'd return the books that I'd read and check out others I'd picked out myself. I always got gifts of books for my birthday and Christmas. Now I do most of my reading using the Kindle and Nook apps on my cellphone and my tablet and on my desktop and notebook PCs. Whenever they were available, instead of buying textbooks I'd rent e-textbooks from B&N and read them using the Nook Study app on my notebook PC. I've always read for pleasure, and I used to read for school. Now I read for work.

Colin :icon_geek:

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You should take a look at this: Common Core State Standards for English Language, Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects; Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks here: www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf.

Long title, long appendix (183 pages), and an extensive list of BOOKS, and samples from some, that are recommended to be read in English language arts (ELA), history/social studies, and science, mathematics, and technical subjects, with the ELA texts further subdivided into stories, drama, poetry, and informational texts. (The history/social studies texts also include some arts-related texts.)

The link to a list of all of the documents that make up the Common Core Standards is at www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/.

This, to me, is a very exciting concept. It brings reading stories into subjects other than English classes. Reading a story about mathematics and where it can fit in our society adds an important perspective that's always been missing when subjects other than English are being taught. Teaching kids to read stories is expected in English classes. Now they will also be taught how to read informational texts, like history or biology textbooks. Having to read stories in classes other than English will be interesting and hopefully draw kids into the subject matter. Learning how to read textbooks will finally be taught in school, instead of assuming kids will be able to cope with textbooks on their own.

Colin :icon_geek:

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My parents initially read to me a little bit, but I was very impatient and just learned to read on my own. Some of the best days of my life as a kid were spent in the public library, particularly on days when I'd find 5 or 6 books that I could check out for the week. I vividly remember the excitement of getting an adult library card so I could pull out some pretty highbrow stuff, but I also remember my friends being perplexed at me being enraptured at the thought of hanging out at a library all day long.

It's sad that this part of life is being lost, but like the old song goes, "something's lost... but something's gained... in living every day." I like to believe that kids will continue to read, if only eBooks and on the internet. One thing that's a concern is that I think that reading comprehension and the tendency for short attention spans are a big concern, as typified by the short news features by websites like CNN and so on. We're losing the in-depth reporting that we used to have in published newspapers, and it's a good question as to how long people will continue to want to read full-length novels and similar books.

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Think about this: AwesomeDude and Codey's World are sites primarily for posting and reading stories. The question I have is this: are we doing everything we can do to attract younger readers to these sites? Is AwesomeDude inappropriate for kids under 18? Under 16? What are the age requirements for AwesomeDude? Are there any? Should there be any? my opinion is "no" because these days kids in middle school are much more aware of sex and gender and alternatives than I was in middle school 14 years ago, and even when my youngest sister was in middle school just 7 years ago.

Most of my stories are on Codey's World. Codey's World is not age-restricted because the stories are constrained, and the submissions policy reads: Our submission policy is simple: No gratuitous or graphic sex, drug usage, or violence, and no Fan Fiction. Almost anything else is acceptable.

In any case, we need to attract more younger readers, like Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, whatever will attract them to our sites.

What ideas do you have?

Colin :icon_geek:

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I've always thought of CW as Awesomedude' little brother, like the title says someplace. I figured CW for the younger crowd and here for the elders. Since I don't Facebook or anything else, I could see come kind of homage to that in whatever signature or something you may have on them to raise awareness.

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A forum with age restrictions: no one over 14 can use it?

Join-in sort of activities, like a community writing project where kids take turns adding their own paragraph?

A challenge where kids write a short essay on what they'd like to see done differently in their school, their town, their country -- and why. Then post the entries.

'Best' lists: Each kid submits a list of the five best TV shows, bands, movies, songs, animals, books, cars, etc. They submit them, then there's a forum discussion.

A limerick contest. As many submissions as they want to send in. The best twenty will be posted.

Need any more?

C

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I'm not trying to get anyone come to the forum; I'm trying to get them to come to both sites to read stories, and we'll end up with quite a few coming to the forum to lurk, and eventually some will join. There's no way to verify anyone's age. Unless you require a credit card number, or a scan of their driver's license. Both are fodder for identity theft and AD shouldn't do that.

IMO, these two sites have two primary purposes for being on the internet:

1) A place for writers to submit their stories and poems and have them posted.

2) A place for readers to come to read the stories.

The forum topics are a way to get comments about our stories, and a place to communicate with others of like mind and purpose.

What I find, however, is that most of the communication I get about my stories is via email, and specifically using the email link at the top and bottom of my story posts. I think the reason for that is most don't want to go through the bother of signing up to post messages on the forum.

When I reply to an email I sometimes suggest, "If you liked [my story X] I think you'd also like [author Y's story Z]. There have been a very few times that someone has written back and said they liked [author Y's story Z] so I don't really know how effective that is.

I'm going to try a Twitter feed listing the same stories in my often-but-not-unfailingly "Codey's World Updates" postings and see what happens. The only limitation is the 140 characters.

Colin :icon_geek:

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I have no suggestions on how to get readers to come to the sites to read stories other than to write stories that appeal to them. The suggestions I made were to lure them to the sites as fun places to be, thinking that if they were here, they might just read a story of two. But if you just want to do it with stories, then I guess we're where we always were.

C

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I have no suggestions on how to get readers to come to the sites to read stories other than to write stories that appeal to them. The suggestions I made were to lure them to the sites as fun places to be, thinking that if they were here, they might just read a story of two. But if you just want to do it with stories, then I guess we're where we always were.

C

"...then I guess we're where we always were."

Cole, that might look like a tongue twister trying to be a limerick, but even Charles Dickens was rarely so profound. In fact it would make a marvellous final line in a story.

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How about an official Codey's World ebook of short stories (1st in a series?). Colin as editor.

Smaller in scope than 'Midnight Dude' and using stories already written.

Available for free at CW (amazon, smashwords, etc) and marketed by press release to GLBT friendly sites and blogs.

The book draws readers to the site and vice-versa.

I'm happy to do it if you like.

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How about an official Codey's World ebook of short stories (1st in a series?). Colin as editor.

Smaller in scope than 'Midnight Dude' and using stories already written.

Available for free at CW (amazon, smashwords, etc) and marketed by press release to GLBT friendly sites and blogs.

The book draws readers to the site and vice-versa.

I'm happy to do it if you like.

That sounds like a great idea. Email me, Camy.

Colin :icon_geek:

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