Reading: Balancing Interest and Challenge

"Does everyone read this?" My eight year old asks as she enters the schoolroom.

"Everyone read what?" I respond.

"Does everyone read these books?"

I sat there baffled for a moment trying to figure out who was "everyone" and what "books" she was talking about. Then it dawned on me.

"You mean all other third graders?

"Yes, do all third graders have to read the same books?"

She was referring to her current assigned reading: The American Girl Kaya series.

Once it finally registered what she was talking about I just smiled as I explained to her that no, not all third graders have the same schoolwork. Since we homeschool, I get to choose the books I think she will enjoy and that would be a good fit (ie. what will challenge her yet interest her).

"Oh" she responded in typical eight year old fashion, smiled, grabbed her book, and happily went on her way.

Such a simple everyday conversation, and yet so incredibly profound. You see, one of the greatest beauties of homeschooling is our ability to develop individualized curriculum to meet our children where they are and to meet our own educational goals . . . and of course to help them enjoy the journey as much as possible.

I strongly desire to develop a deep LOVE of reading in my children, not just develop strong readers.

For Kindergarten and part of first grade the goal is to get them reading as fast as possible. Readers take up most of their brain energy for reading at this stage (learning to read is hard work!) and as soon as they can handle more we hit the library for whatever gets their interest.

Since I am so terrible at the library (as in pay $10 in late fees for a $3 book!), the Sonlight readers are great for us. Each year I buy a Sonlight readers set and in the past E could pick what she wanted to read and if there wasn't anything vying for her attention, we would go to the Sonlight list and pick the next book. I give choices that I am ok with, but then she has some invested interest as well-- she chooses from my selections. This is how we handled first and second grade.

This year for third, we are doing it a little differently. This year we purchased the Sonlight Core D readers to go along with our History. Those along with many of the American Girl series that correspond to our time period have been scheduled as readers.

Having "school" books like American Girl Kaya, Kirsten, Felicity, and Joesphina, don't seem like schoolwork at all!

They are books that have a decent reading level, tell a good story, and help bring the history we are studying alive. The smile on my daughter's face whenever she is assigned one of these books to read is priceless! Maybe not "classics" but certainly effective in developing a love of reading!

This is the first year our readers have corresponded with our history studies, and while I certainly don't think it necessary or even always beneficial, it can be a great experience. With many of our read alouds and readers tying into history along with lots of hands on projects, the kids are having a blast learning!

It can be challenging finding books that hold your kids interest but are also challenging to help them develop reading skills, but honestly, I have been beyond thrilled with the Sonlight lists and they are our go to books every year!

Currently being read in our homeschool:

E: Kaya's Hero

C: The Queen Bee (All About Reading Reader)

Read Aloud: Winn Dixie

Audio book: Naya Nuki

Check out how the other Homeschool Help Series bloggers 
have to say about reading


1 comment:

  1. My daughter loves the American Girl series and Naya Nuki too.


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