© iStockphoto/Ronald Bloom RedBarnStudio
When children start to read independently, parents often breathe a sigh of relief. It certainly is a milestone to be celebrated.
Isn't learning to read kind of like riding a bicycle? Well, yes and no.
How reading IS like riding a bike:
- Both take a lot of time and effort in most cases.
- Both require practice and supervision right after the skill is learned.
- People learn to do these things at many different ages. Children have to be developmentally ready. One child may be ready at 4 and another at 8. That's okay.
- If you let children go off on their own too soon with either, they could encounter obstacles and/or traffic jams.
How reading is NOT like riding a bike:
- You don't have to read with a helmet on.
- You can read anywhere.
- Once children learn to ride bikes, parents need to watch where they go. Once children learn to read, parents need to help them to adjust their book selections as they grow.
- Biking can take months to master. Reading can take years.
Would you let your children ride their bikes on major streets when they were 10 years old?
Would you let your children read teen books when they were 10 years old?
When independent readers move beyond series books like these, many of them seem to take the plunge right into YA books. Are these books appropriate for elementary school students?
Take Twilight, for example. Should a 9 year old be reading this YA book? Should a 6 year old be reading Harry Potter? There's been a lot of controversy about this very issue across the blogosphere during the past month.
Perhaps you'd like to read these articles that I found through Jen Robinson's Book Page (Jen has a whole series about this issue going on at her own blog and at Booklights):
Here's another related article:
As a parent, I know exactly how difficult it is to navigate through the endless sea of YA books. We're all busy. AND we all just want our kids to read SOMETHING. Most of us do not have time to read every single book our children read.
That's why, when children beg us to read popular books, like Harry Potter and Twilight, we give in. Many of us are so happy that our children even want to read that we allow them to read more advanced books. And there are some that can be great resources for all ages.
What many parents may not realize, though, is that some YA books are meant for high school students and have very mature themes. A book that is appropriate for a 16 year old may not be appropriate for a 12 or 13 year old.
So, I like to think of the YA section of the local library kind of like a traffic jam. I wouldn't let my child venture off on his bike onto a major road, so I wouldn't let him head into the YA section of my local library without my assistance. Unless, of course, he had a librarian or a traffic cop to help him!
What do you think?
By the way, Jen Robinson has had some great posts over at Booklights about reading levels and social reading. Here are two more that might be of interest to you:
Have a fantastic week! I hope you don't get stuck in any traffic jams...