Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reading and Weightlifting

Those of you who know me know that I love to work out. If there is one thing that keeps me sane, it may be my daily sweat session.

When I talk to my kids about reading "just right" books, I tell them my weightlifting analogy.

I remind them that their brains are muscles...people who use their muscles grow them, or, on the flip side, if that muscle isn't used...they get flabby.

I tell them that picking a just right book starts with light weights. You pick up what you can handle. If you pick up something too heavy, you will get hurt, and if it is too light, your muscles won't get bigger either.

After picking up the lighter weights for a while, your muscles get used to need a challenge. You pick up a little heavier weight.

You may pick a book with harder words, or more words, or a different genre (type). Any of those things will make your muscle stronger. I tell them to pick up a weight that is only a little bit heavier...I wouldn't go from a 10 lb. barbell straight to a 50...I would get a 15.

I actually take hand weights in to demonstrate...they think it is really fun and get into it.

Take the analogy one step further once they hear it. As I read with kids, I will ask them how it feels. Does it feel too heavy? Too light?

Tonight my family and I were in Barnes and Noble (not a surprise that I had three books in hand within the first 2 minutes in the store). I picked up a series about Freddy the Hampster for Ben -- it was something new, but humorous, and he needs to be challenged to try new genres. Anyhow, I had him read a page to me and he did fine, yet I didn't think his fluency was reflecting an ease with the book level. I asked him how he felt. He said he really wanted to read it...but when I asked if he would rather read it alone or have me read it to him, he hesitated. I asked him if it was a bit too much weight. He agreed, but looked bummed out. I immediately explained that he would definitely be able to read this book, just not right now...he needed to build up that reading muscle with those great Stink and A to Z books he was reading. He perked up immediately, and asked if I would remember it for later.

You can try this at home. Talk to them about weightlifting, or even running a marathon. No one goes from not running or running a mile to running 26.2 overnight (don't let the biggest loser be a gauge). They need to build up to it, or they will have to quit because they haven't built up to it.

You may find that this is why your child stops in the middle of books...they might not be just right.

Now, if the working out/physical analogy isn't working for ya, I have another one tomorrow...

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