By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate
We’re coming to the end of our summer reading program. It’s been a wonderful reading-filled summer, and we’re on schedule to meet our reading goal. In the Youth Department, we’ve stamped and entered hours and hours of reading time. But what really “counts” as reading? What filled up all those hours?
In an oversimplified definition, reading is any formatted words, spoken or written, that cause a response from the reader. This could be emotional—a tie to a certain character or world—or influential—learning more about the history of WWII or the biology of snakes.
But, what does reading include? Reading includes audiobooks, graphic novels, non-fiction, magazines, playaway views and online books (BookFlix, Tumblebooks, ICDL), books read outside of a child’s reading level, rereads, any books read to children (storytime, bedtime stories, teacher-child reading, child-to-child reading), and more. If it fits the simplified definition, it counts. Even if it doesn’t fit, that doesn’t mean that the activity is not a useful or fun one.
Reading aloud is great, because both the reader and the listener are interacting with the same material in different ways. It also allows the reader and listener to talk about the material together and share with each other their personal responses, a challenge that can build communication and reflection skills.
Personally, I love listening to audiobooks while cleaning or driving. Some are simple, just a single person encompassing the personalities of a multitude of characters through changing the tone and inflection of their voice. Some are more complex, with lilting music accompanying a variety of actors as we journey together through the chapters. I experience the same joy, terror and frustration with characters as I might when reading with my eyes.
Audiobooks help children learn fluency, vocabulary, sentence structure and word pronunciation.
Graphic Novels help children learn interpretation through pairing text and visual imagery, as well as gain a higher level of visual literacy, a valuable skill.
Online Books, with added video and sound, allow children to learn and interact through different formats.
Magazines convey information quickly and concisely, and can teach children the value of words.
But the most important thing to remember is that any reading is good reading!