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Babble Talk: Your Kid Can't Read But Mine Can

allinthetiming1Some people may have felt relief reading “All in the Timing,” today’s top story on Babble. Writer and children’s story book author Dashka Slater sets out to remind us that picture books aren’t just for babies; they’re for big kids, too. She also wants you to know that reading level doesn’t always jibe with readiness level — some kids’ lit is lost on the young-yet-advanced readers.

Great insight! Parents of advanced readers, go over to Slater’s piece and then unbox those “babyish” picture books for a few more years.

But for the rest of you who read the article and are now crapping your pants — 4-year-olds reading? 6-year-olds and Shakespeare? 10-year-olds and Eragon?– come to Mama Madeline.

I want you to know that just because your preschooler doesn’t give a rip how to spell her name, much less want to dive into the latest Magic Treehouse, she’s not stupid or unmotivated. She will learn to read.

In the U.S., schools have come to expect kids entering Kindergarten to be able to read. But there’s plenty of evidence out there that this is akin to pushing all children to walk before they’re one. Some kids can! Some kids do! But most? Even half? Not developmentally ready.

There’s also no evidence that early reading predicts future academic success. There’s no bigger learning killer than classroom shame or mom’s increasingly shrill voice  begging her kid to keep up with the others. So why push kids who aren’t ready? Bragging rights?

Slater, herself, knows how to read between the reading-levels lines.

Not long ago, a friend of mine told me — in the boastful tone parents inevitably fall into when talking about their kids’ reading habits — that her twelve-year-old daughter doesn’t read children’s books anymore.

Curious how parents with preschoolers (or older!) aren’t saying much.

Anyway, remember, it’s OK for YOUR 12-year-old to have yet to make the transition to adult books. There’s a whole booming genre out there called Young Adult — who wants to miss out on that?

For what it’s worth, I totally agree with Slater — and even the first five commenters. Let kids read what they want when they want if they’re ready. But offering up her nine-year-old son Milo, who was reading a 528-page sci-fi novel, was a bit of a distraction from the point. Come on, parents of average readers, for a split second, didn’t you think about cashing out the college fund, too? (Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be comforting you.)

Let’s remember, some day our own grade-schoolers will be reading long books, even if the pagey-ist thing they’ve  thumbed through to date is the Ikea catalog (pictures!). It’s a stroll, not a race (when you’re losing … I’m not very helpful, am I?).

Finally, I’m laughing because the reading recommendations in the sidebar includes Don Quixote for 10-year-olds. (Eight-year-olds get Miley Cyrus!) I’m not saying your kid won’t want to — or be able to — read Cervantes in 4th grade. I’m just saying, don’t all wrap up a copy for Christmas if, deep down, you kinda know convincing your kid to read it will be like jousting at windmills.

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Image: Babble

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