I have heard that when it comes to kids reading the most important thing is that they are comprehending and processing the story. Phonemic awareness is a great start, but it’s nothing if the child isn’t gathering any information from the text.

This is one of the reasons that Z’s 3rd grade Language Arts teacher does a 40 book challenge rather than tracking reading minutes. Here is an excerpt from one of her emails:

“My ultimate goal is to inspire students to
become passionate, independent readers. Who wants to be curled up in bed with a good
book and their reading log, tracking every minute?
I believe in reading nightly. Research shows that the more a child reads, the more
successful he/she will be in all content areas. I still expect students to read at least 100
minutes/week, but I am no longer going to require students to record every minute he/she
has read. My plan is to create a more authentic experience for our readers. Instead of
recording the minutes read, students will record when they complete a book. I am
presenting it as the 40 Book Challenge, inspired by the work of educator Donalyn Miller.”
Z is a proficient reader, but like a lot of boys he doesn’t get giddy about reading. In fact, as his 2nd grade teacher pointed out, it’s a struggle to get him to read a story rather than informational text.
He recently got some new books for Christmas. Quick side note: His class did a gift exchange where each student brought an age appropriate gently used book. It encourages reading, sharing, recycling, and all in the spirit of Christmas! I loved this idea.
Anyway, as he’s been reading I’ve tried to initiate dialogue about the books to make sure he’s really applying himself. I know better than to ask yes or no questions, so I’ll say something like:
Who is your favorite character in this book?
Have there been any funny parts?
What do you like about it?
The problem is he thinks I am asking for my sake; on more than one occasion he has offered to loan me the book so I can find out the answers for myself! I am not terribly interested in the latest books he has finished,  but J had the idea to start the Narnia series and came home with all 7 books one day. So now J, Z, and I are all reading them together.


When I say reading together I don’t mean aloud. We are all reading separately, but at the same time. When we each have a sliver of opportunity we’ll grab the book and pick up where we left off. Our schedules are all so different it’s been easy to share. Z likes reading in the morning and early evening. I am mostly free mid day and J has later evening and weekends, not that any of it has been that structured.

I gave Z the assignment of making individualized book marks so we each knew where we were at in the book. He did a great job!


Z was hesitant to get started with this story, but now he loves it and is further than all of us in book #2!


The Magician’s Nephew is the first book if you are reading them chronologically. It was written in the 1950’s, but takes place in the year 1900 and it’s british so a lot of the dialogue and vocubulary is a little difficult to keep up with for a little guy. Z describes it as being written in biblical language which made me chuckle. Coincidentally, we just recently watched Mary Poppins and it was the perfect movie to accompany our book. I know that may sound strange, but it is also set in London in the year 1910 (and written around the same time even). This gave a visual and auditory example of the setting that we had been reading about!

Sorry, I know I am rambling, but I am a book nerd through and through and I had to share about this little endeavor. It’s turned into a great boding experience for us. All three of us have completely fallen in love with the Narnia series and we can’t wait to read more.