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My "Quiet Reading Hour" (3rd and 4th graders)


TheAttachedMama
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After lunch, I send the kids outside for an hour of play, and when they come in, we have an hour of quiet reading scheduled in the afternoon for my 3rd and 4th-grade kids.   My 3-year-old naps during this time, so I also spend an hour reading too. 

 

We do this on any day we are home in the afternoon.   ( At least 3 or 4 times during the work week, and typically once on the weekend.)     

 

My goals with this reading hour are....

 

1)  To teach my children to LOVE to read:  Now that we have covered the ins-and-outs of HOW to read in K-2, my main goal now is to give them lots and lots of practice and opportunity to read.  That way they have a chance to learn to love to read.   We are a VERY high energy family, and left to their own devices, my kids would not sit down to read.   They would spend the entire time running around outside being busy, busy, busy.   So I thought if I don't schedule the hour in the afternoon, it might never happen.  

 

2)  To give me a much-needed break after a harried morning homeschooling with a toddler:  Let's face it, homeschooling can be stressful!   So this hour lets us ALL rest and refresh, so when we re-group in the afternoon we are (hopefully) a lot more patient with each other.   This might be the last year where my youngest naps, and I want to take full advantage of that nap while I can.   (Don't judge me! hahaha)  I am lighting a candle, brewing a cup of tea, and ignoring dishes and laundry, while I better my mind through reading too.   

 

3)   To gently lead my children towards reading to learn in their content areas:  (Science, nature, history, biography, etc.)   

 

----

HISTORY:

 

I think it is important to hear our "history" with this quiet reading hour too....

I started our quiet reading hour in July.   I started with only 30 minutes, and they could read anything they wanted.  I took the kids to the library once per week so they had plenty of access to book choice.   They also have kindles and access to overdrive and kindle unlimited.    I was also prepared with NUMEROUS, NUMEROUS book recommendations in many different genres.   I recommended funny books, scary books, easy to read series, survival stories, mysteries, action stories, sci-fi, fantasy.      But my kids are completely resistant to any of my recommendations.  It doesn't matter what I recommend, they will always say, "I don't feel like reading that."  I had the librarian recommend a book.   They checked it out, but never read it.  

 

SO--Left to their own devices, they picked up nothing but PURE twaddle.   I mean twaddle, twaddle.   Lots and lots of Minecraft books like "Diary of a farting creeper", R.L. Stine, etc. etc.   I cringed as they read these books, but said nothing hoping that they were cultivating a love for reading given lots of freedom and choice and practice.   I tried to remind myself of all of the twaddle I read when I was their age.  My mom never limited me in what I read.   I was allowed to pick anything I wanted from the library shelves.  So I devoured babysitters club books (and RL Stine books)...which are not exactly great literature, but it helped me to become a life-long reader.    I didn't read those books forever, and eventually discovered good books.

 

I gradually increased the time to an hour of reading by about September.

 

But, I decided that perhaps they needed more guidance in what they were reading.  I wasn't really sure an hour set aside to read these Minecraft fiction books was doing them any good.   (The content in these books are terrible!)  But since they were so resistant to my recommendations, I wanted to still give them some choice in what they were reading.  

 

So we started our "Book Basket" phase.  

I gave them each a book basket and 5 bookmarks.   The book basket was loaded with 5 books in the following categories:

1)  Biography

2)  Science/Nature/Fun Living Math book 

3)  History/Historical Fiction/Myth/Legend  (You wouldn't want to be... series, Norse myths, Choose your own adventure, Sonlight tales)

4)  For Fun Book

5)  Children's Classic (Almost always done on audiobook or kindle immersion reading.)  

 

I always make sure there is variety in their book baskets.  I try to make sure there is one harder book, an easy book or picture book, and there are usually one or two "audiobooks" that we count as "books".   (That way if they get tired of reading, they can listen.)  

 

I give them choices in what they pick for these various categories.  I show them some ideas in these categories and always ask if there is a particular thing they feel like reading.   I also told them that they are allowed to swap out any book they don't like for another book in the same category.   (But they have to read at least 10 pages so they give it a chance.)  

 

I also told them that once they finished 5 of these book baskets (25 books), I would take them on a special night out with mama.  (My daughter wants to go ice skating with me, and my son wants me to take him an arcade.)  

 

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The problem is....I am REALLY questioning if the book basket approach is the right thing to do.  

Will this make my kids hate reading?   Should I give them more time to read whatever they want?   (Maybe 30 minutes of assigned reading, then 30 minutes of reading whatever you want?)    Is an hour too long?   Is it too short?

 

My 3rd grade daughter has taken to sleeping for this hour instead of actually reading.  So I'm just not feeling confident in my choice.  

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We've always had a 1 hour quiet reading time after lunch and this has usually been books I've assigned to them. If it's a child who chooses books off our shelves or from the library and chooses well, I don't really interfere other than to make recommendations. But I've had at least two that needed more help with their choices. So my conversation is usually, "Sure, you can check that {twaddle} book out and read it in your time but not for reading time. Sometimes those books get read, sometimes not but the child is usually allowed to check them out. 

 

And as for napping . . . I'm mixed on this. I've allowed it at times but then started not allowing it when I saw that is was really just an excuse to get out of reading. I want that child tired for bedtime too and s/he always perked right up when reading time was over and it was time to play! So, for us, no napping during reading time. 

 

IME, the daily habit of reading is one of the ways to help kids learn to love to read. Though, after all these years, I still have one adultish child who is super active and not a huge reader. 6/7 so far though. ;) 

 

 

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I tell them to read what I want read for school. If they hate it, I'll hear about it.

 

I also insist on a certain amount of free reading. But it's truly free reading and I only disallow books there that I don't want in my home, period.

 

They are free to nap or draw while listening to an audiobook instead of free reading during quiet time.

 

Quiet time is an hour.

 

They are also allowed to read whatever they want all day long, obviously.

 

This works great for both my precocious and my reluctant reader, so this is what I recommend.

 

Picking out school books is not something my kids are into. If they need to read it, I just tell them to read it.

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Oh, I love these discussions. BOOKS! (And I confess I just scolded my kids for being too loud during quiet time and waking the baby. ARGH! This is MY Sanity Hour!)

 

I'm like you. When I was a child, I read lots of...well, the 't' word is one I personally don't like, but Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, and Cherie Bennett were staples of my childhood. I did end up Getting Somewhere as a writer and I still love reading-- and honestly cannot stomach poorly-written books as an adult-- so I feel pretty confident about giving my kids freedom to choose what they want to read (to an extent-- some books are just plain inappropriate for their ages, although I've found giving them the impression that I don't like a book pretty much is guaranteed to make it more appealing: if my kids' "cool aunt" gives them a book and I wrinkle my nose and say, "That has some bad language," they are bound to devour it, even though my idea of bad language is pretty tame).

 

This may not work in all households, but instead of enforcing reading time during the day, I let the older kids stay awake up to an hour after their bedtime as long as they are quietly reading. This might be where I'd do the book basket/required reading. Then again, your child is choosing to nap rather than read during the day, but being able to stay up late at night is a major privilege in our house.

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I tell them to read what I want read for school. If they hate it, I'll hear about it.

 

I also insist on a certain amount of free reading. But it's truly free reading and I only disallow books there that I don't want in my home, period.

 

They are free to nap or draw while listening to an audiobook instead of free reading during quiet time.

 

Quiet time is an hour.

 

They are also allowed to read whatever they want all day long, obviously.

 

This works great for both my precocious and my reluctant reader, so this is what I recommend.

 

Picking out school books is not something my kids are into. If they need to read it, I just tell them to read it.

Thanks for the reply!

So, you schedule an hour of quiet time per day where they can free read anything they want?   Or, do they also do their school reading during this time?  (Or is school reading scheduled at another time per day?)

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Oh, I love these discussions. BOOKS! 

You sound like me!   I could talk about books and reading ALL. DAY. LONG.   :)   

 

But, I am just not feeling confident about our quiet reading hour.   I am worrying that "rewarding" reading might not be a good thing to motivate them long term.  I've read a few studies lately about "rewards" and "incentives" not working out very well long term.   (But, I also want to encourage/motivate them to read instead of nap/stare at the wall!  And how to do that?  Or do I just give up and allow them to stare at the wall if they would rather?)   

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We have SSR because that's what they called it when I was in school.  For my kids it's usually right before they go to bed because it accomplishes the later bedtime without requiring that I referee after my brain has turned to mush and I've had enough.  So...basically for the same reasons you have a quiet reading hour in the middle of the day. :p

 

I consider this free reading time and free reading to me means free.  They read stuff like dorky Barbie books or Minecraft guides or in ds' case re-reading the Harry Potter series for what must be the 700th time.  It's been four years since he first read the series independently...I mean, I like re-reading, but who can re-read a series that many times?  I always remind myself that this is reading to read for the sake of reading and I guess if you really like re-reading kid, knock yourself out.  I do sometimes suggest other books I think the kids might like, but it's in the vein of the low-pressure this is a book you might like kind of way.  Gift lists have also been helpful in this regard- "Hey, kid, what new books would you like for your birthday?"  Voila!  Problem temporarily solved.

 

I still have plenty of opportunities to pick good books for them to read, but that's an entirely separate thing.  I save that for literature ala WTM, audiobooks in the car, and read alouds that I read to them. The later is something they usually begin asking for the moment I finish eating dinner (whatever happened to pausing to digest one's food?), but generally also takes place while they do the dishes.  So...I'm a human audiobook.

 

I remember the look of horror dh gave me when our oldest was a baby and we cancelled cable.  He asked me what we were going to do in the evenings.  Umm, read?  He said he didn't like reading because his only exposure to reading was what he was required to read.  I suggested that perhaps, maybe, and this was a revolutionary idea to him, he hadn't found his genre of book.  I did my "I told you so dance" a few weeks later when he found out that he in fact did enjoy reading just for the sheer pleasure of it.  With dh in mind, I've always made it a goal for free reading to be really and truly free.

 

Is this the only time that your children are reading?  Do they read for content subjects?  Separate assigned reading for literature?  Do you read aloud to them?  Audiobooks?  If the answer to any of the questions is yes then I wouldn't sweat the "twaddle."  If the answer to any of those is no then maybe think about adding some of those things in.  Maybe split the time - half hour after lunch for assigned reading, half hour before bed for free reading?  Or keep the hour and add in time before bed?  The hour after lunch is the basket and the half hour before bed is free.  

 

So, yeah...I'm in the "Keep free reading free!" camp. I maybe need a better slogan for my initiative.  And a t-shirt.  Or a bumper sticker.  :D

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Thanks for the reply!

So, you schedule an hour of quiet time per day where they can free read anything they want? Or, do they also do their school reading during this time? (Or is school reading scheduled at another time per day?)

During their quiet time, which is an hour long, they can read whatever they want to read that I've bought or allowed from the library. or the can listen to an audiobook and write or draw. Or they can nap. "Read, write, rest, draw" is what we say about quiet time.

 

Required reading is done during school. School is not over if they haven't done reading for school.

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At 8 pm I require my son to get into PJs and he can either go to bed or stay up reading from a quality mom-approved chapter book. This is a good time for him because he's too active and wound up to sit down and really get into literature during the day. If he's really into his book I let him stay up as late as 9:30. 

Assigned literature we still do as a read aloud.

During the day I let him read whatever he wants - graphic novels, non-fiction, twaddle, how-to books, audio books, etc.  

This is a nice balance for us.

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Assigned reading is different from free reading for me.

 

In free reading time, DS can read anything he wants - he mostly reads fiction books from the library (animal themed, humor, adventure, fantasy and mystery genres), Ripley's believe it or not, Guinness book of world records and a lot of old lego catalogs while he pretends to be one of the characters inside the catalog or he reads kids magazines that I have subscriptions to.

 

For assigned reading, I pick 7-8 books from my carefully made list from many book recommendations and talking to librarians and books that I want DS to have exposure to. I require that he keep a weekly reading log for the assigned reading books. I give him a choice of which one to read by giving him 7 or so choices and make sure that there is plenty of variety in there. He maintains a google spreadsheet which he updates when he finishes 200 pages or so. I monitor it once a week to see if he is done with the book and then we have discussions based on the book. He loves to tell me the storyline and what he thinks of the book content and he looks forward to book discussion days with me. I also give him a "prize" when he finishes 1000 pages in his assigned reading log - an audiobook of his choice that I purchase for his iPad so that he can listen to it while we are on the road (which is very often).

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I have been assigning books for them to read during reading time for a couple of years now (grades 4 & 5 now).  There is some leeway in that I will often create a list of 10-12 books from their shelves and tell them to read 8 of them.  So if they hate one they can put it aside.

 

Now, here's the thing - will this make them hate reading?  I don't think so.  They still voluntarily read during their free time and they read whatever they want then.  

 

And I liken it to my own reading - I read lots of books that I want to read (free reading).  But sometimes I need to stretch myself a book and 'assign' myself books.  Hence joining the BaW thread in Chat and aiming to complete the BaW bingo.  Will I enjoy all of those books?  No.  But I will have done something a bit different, made some different pathways in my brain, discovered something about the world and myself.  I want my kids to also be able to do that, but on a smaller scale, so their required reading is not too onerous.

 

Also, I hearken back to when I was a youngster.  I read lots of twaddle.  Lots and lots.  And fluff.  But I also read Newbery winning style books because for reading x number of books my dad would take me to the book store to buy a book (and I wasn't about to show him the fluff and twaddle to claim my prize as I'm pretty sure he would not have counted those).  I don't think the reward for reading harder books method usually backfires.

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I let my fourth grader and first grader read whatever they want during quiet reading time. I make sure to check out a lot of quality books for them when we go to the library, so it's available. I still read aloud to them daily and we listen to audiobooks in the car, so that they still get exposure to quality literature. My oldest in a book club, and the mother who runs it does an excellent job of picking quality literature that my oldest reads independently. Otherwise, I try to let it go. Unless it's wildly inappropriate, I let them read what they want, and there's a good deal of twaddle in that. 

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My 7 and 8 year olds get wiggly after sitting still and reading for a while, so our independent reading time is only 30 minutes (though the 10 year old would read all day if she could).  During that time, they must read a book that I have approved, but if they absolutely hate a particular book after a few chapters, I don’t force it.  I’m more lenient with book selections for my 7 year old because she is just becoming a fluent reader and I don’t want to turn her off to reading.  After they finish a book, they get to do a cool project (like a lapbook or poster or newspaper article detailing the climax of the story, etc.), which they see as a reward, so they try to get through books quickly.

They are allowed and encouraged to read whatever they want after school hours and we often make “emergency†trips to the library to get the next book in a series.  Even if I don’t think that their afterschool book choices have much value, I’ll do almost anything to support their enthusiasm for reading.

We do literature as a read aloud.  Actually, my husband reads to us all for about 45 minutes every night from a good book and we discuss it as a family.  This may not be the most effective literature curriculum, but it is a nice way to bond as a family and include my husband in our school life.  

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Love this thread and love the ideas.

 

Curious - what assigned reading are you doing for your 3rd grader?

 

I discovered that my 3rd grade DD loved stories about little creatures, so this year she has read The Borrowers, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.  Pretty much anything with tiny characters.  She’s also read Charlotte’s Web, Alice in Wonderland, and a few of the Anne of Green Gables and Little House books.  Currently during her free time, she is reading the Harry Potter series.

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I can tell you what we do, because it's working! (taking about my 3rd and 4th graders here)

 

We do "non-fiction time" (or book basket) right away in the morning for 30 minutes. I usually have a book filled with current science or history topics, or just non-fiction that caught my eye that I think would interest them. They don't complain and often want to continue. We do it right away (8:30ish) because it gets them focused and honestly, lets me wake up a bit and clean up breakfast.

 

Then in the afternoon, we do "quiet time" which sounds a lot like what you do. Our time is currently an hour and 15 minutes. At no time have I ever required that they read, but both do..every single day. 

 

Aside from that, I find them reading all the time on their own...before bed always and even in the morning.

 

I just thank God that somehow...even with all of my screw ups, these boys love to read. I feel like it's the one thing I might've done right!

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We're free-range readers here. Dd reads whatever she wants. If that means twaddle for a month straight, so be it. If that means she's reading my old college textbooks, great.

 

It must be working, because I don't have to assign reading time- she reads on her own for several hours a day, plus we always have at least one read aloud going.

 

I think reading is a lot like learning in general. Yes, you can tell someone else what to learn, but it works so much better and is so much more enjoyable when it's self-directed.

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