Game Changers

Today while I was at work I had a conversation with a second grade child about honey. She had an old faded copy of a Winnie the Pooh book. She actually looked pretty engrossed in it when I walked by; she was definitely reading the words. I asked her if she liked Winnie the Pooh. "He's kind of a dope," I said, "Always getting stuck in those honey pots." She smiled and then said, "What's honey?"

Later, M and I lay in bed with Laurel, paging through her First Human Body Encyclopedia and looking for the pages on blood. When we got to the part about where blood cells are produced - in the bone marrow - she told us about tasmanian devils and how they eat marrow. When we looked at the magnified photo of the white blood cell, she said, "Reeve has lots of those because he is sick right now."

I'm the sort of girl who wears an "I love books" t-shirt to work, so yes, my kids read a lot. But it's not just about the reading. Bring a wide variety of reading materials and have rich discussions to build comprehension and vocabulary, that's what I tell my Reading Warriors. Also known as "Read stuff your kids are interested in and talk about it." Laurel learned the thing about the tasmanian devils from Wild Kratts, so sometimes "reading" is replaced by "watch a video." Whatever, it's the interaction that matters.

Do you know how hard it is to describe honey to a child who eats all of her meals in the school cafeteria and has never seen a bee hive?

So much word gap, so little time. One of the reasons I am so devoted to teaching teens about reading has nothing to do with the elementary kids they are tutoring now. I want them to understand the extent and complexity of the word gap and make sure they have babies that know what white blood cells are when they are four.

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