10 - Speed Bikes and Other Vehicles to Becoming a Lifelong Reader

By: Amy Hesterman, MCS Librarian

The door couldn’t rise fast enough as I quickly wheeled my blue 10-speed bike out of the dark garage into the light of a beautiful summer day. I swung my leg over the seat and wheeled my way down the driveway. Attached to the ram-style handlebars, I carefully adjusted my orange AM radio to KEENER 14 (1400 AM) and listened to ABBA’s Dancing Queen as I made a swift left onto the street. The music was just a distraction. I was on a mission! I had all my essentials already with me....my library card and my canvas book bag. I was headed to my beloved Book Mobile, just 10 short biking minutes away. My parents never asked where I was going. Never did they worry if I would be snatched by a stranger, later seeing my face splattered on milk cartons at the grocery store. They knew this was part of my summer routine. I needed to make a trip to the Book Mobile. I was out of books....as dire to me as if my house had been without milk. MUST....GET....BOOKS!!!

I could see it approaching largely in the distance. Parked at the Columbia Plaza, the Book Mobile was patiently waiting there just for me. The door was heavy and creaked as I made my way up the 3 steps required to gain entrance into this Wonderland on Wheels. Ahhhhh!!!! That smell!!! That comforting, unmistakable scent of print on paper! Greeted by the mobile Librarian, I made my way to the back, where a small, but sufficient set of titles begged for me to pull them out from their shelves. I flipped over one book after another, reading the jacket to see if it deserved my time and love. I carefully chose my contenders and placed them in my bag. It wasn’t going to be easy maneuvering my bike back home with such a heavy weight of books. But it was worth it!

Everything about my journeys to the Book Mobile was worth it, because I was unknowingly taking steps as a child to become a life-long reader. I had no idea how much reading would become part of the woven fabric of my life or that I would one day share the immense value of reading with 525 students on a daily basis. Only God knew.

Why is it so important that children become life-long readers? Studies have been conducted regarding this question for many years. We really already know the answers. We know this from when we were in school ourselves and the answers haven’t changed. The outcome from the research still remains the same.

Kids who read independently tend to:

• Become better learners
• Become more successful
• Become well-informed
• Have empathy towards other people
• Have improved problem-solving and critical thinking skills
• Have an expanded vocabulary
• Have improved attention spans

And who is responsible for being a vehicle to helping children become lifelong readers? Is it teachers, parents, students, or all three? Well, it is definitely a team effort. Teachers and parents can partner together in creating reading environments both at home and at school. It is a partnership that needs to be tight...working collectively toward the same goal...launching our children to becoming independent lifelong readers. But it is also the responsibility of the student as well.

In Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, Miller reminds teachers and parents that

“...eventually, students need to take responsibility for their reading lives.”

Teachers and parents can provide the scaffolding for our children to become independent lifelong readers, but eventuallywe need to remove that scaffolding and watch them fly. However, we must provide the environment first.

Here are some helpful hints in creating that environment at home:

1) Let your child see you reading. Show your child that reading is important to you too!
2) Ask your child about what they are reading. Kids love to share about their reading lives. It’s another great way to build your relationship with one another too!
3) Make reading aloud to your child part of your daily routine. It is a precious way to end the day together.
4) Create a library in your child’s room. Owning books in the home are one of the best things that you can do to help your child academically. Our Eagles love to tell me about their personal collections at home.
5) Listen to audio books while you are driving together. It is a bonding experience to listen to a book together. Creating an environment conducive to building lifelong readers has to be intentional. My partnership with MCS parents in creating those environments is an important one. Together, we can cultivate a love of reading that we know will point them to a plethora of reading adventures. But most importantly, it will give them the stamina and desire to read the most valuable book of all in their lives, the Bible, their guide in becoming a lifelong follower of Christ.