I'm passing the mic to my friend Troy Kent this morning. So happy he is with us today. Introducing ...
Troy Kent has been a high school English teacher for over two decades. He is a graduate of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Troy currently resides in Long Sault, Ontario, with his wife Robyn and their five children. He is the author of the endearing children's book titled The Reading Promise as well as the whimsical children's book titled Stinky Blinky.
First of all, I’d like to thank Marilyn for asking to me to be a guest blogger. It is certainly a thrill and an honour!
When she invited me to write something, I was told that it didn’t matter what I wrote about. The choice was mine, so I decided to write about something that I’m passionate about, which is reading! With that in mind, I’d like to call this Just Ten Minutes.
Ten minutes is all it takes to make a connection with your child that might affect him/her for the rest of your lives. I wrote lives because the experience of reading to your child can be as rewarding to the parent as it is to the child. I believe that many people don’t take the time to read to their children because they just don’t have the time (or the energy) after a tiresome day at work. Many parents are of the view that it requires 30, 45, or even 60 minutes. The truth, however, is that you only need to devote ten minutes to this endeavour, especially in the beginning, and it could end up being the most rewarding minutes of your day/life.
Katherine, the young protagonist in my children’s book The Reading Promise, wants to do something special for her child, but her choices are very limited due to her financial circumstances. Luckily, Katherine discovers that by reading to her son nightly she can give him something special – something that money cannot buy. She gives him the gift of reading, but she also gives him the gift of herself.
I wrote that book in attempt to capture and share the special bond that can, and usually does occur, between a parent and child through regular reading. It’s also important to emphasize the need to engage the child while he/she is being read to, and when possible make the connection to real-life events and situations. It’s also necessary to pick topics that are of interest to your child, not just yourself. I regularly tell parents that they need to pay attention to their children while they are reading to them in order to determine what interests them, and where their curiosities lie. Once you are able to determine those things, you are well on your way to creating a lifelong reader and learner!
As mentioned above, make an attempt to read things that captures your child’s interest, and this isn’t as hard as you might think. Quite often, children will indirectly tell you while you’re reading to them through facial expressions and verbal responses. For example, my young protagonist learns that her son has an interest in dinosaurs while reading to him one night, so she took him to a museum and he got to see real dinosaur skeletons; he was mesmerized! Imagine what goes though children’s minds when they get to see something almost “come to life” that they just read about. Books can open eyes that were previously closed.
I called this Just Ten Minutes because that is all it will take to get your reading program off the ground, and by starting off small, new “reading parents” are more likely to stick with it, especially after they start seeing the results. It’s very similar to exercising. When you’re just starting off, keep it easy and keep it short in the beginning, and slowly increase over time.
I previously talked about engaging your child and the need to satisfy their curiosity with real-life connections, but it’s also important to meet them at their level with their interests in mind. As long as the reading material is age and subject appropriate, it does not matter what they are reading. If they want to read comics, read comic books with them. If they like sports, read books about sports with them. Keeping in mind my disclaimer about the age level and subject matter, it does not matter what they read, as long as they read! Their reading tastes are like most things: they will change over time.
This is especially crucial with young boys, as I know that some of them can be very reluctant readers. As an English teacher of over twenty years, I know how challenging it can be to motivate a reluctant (male) reader. I’m not saying that females are always eager readers right from the get-go, but my experience, along with many studies, show that many males are still lagging behind their females counterparts. It’s not hard for me to pick out the students who were not engaged readers at an early age. Fluency in reading is especially important in this new, technological (electronic) age that we are entering, as it requires adequate literacy skills more than ever. As parents, we need to provide whatever advantages we can to our children, and as early as possible. Reading to our children is one of the most important and least expensive gifts we can give them.
My second book, Stinky Blinky, illustrates this point very effectively. It is a humourous book with a simple rhyme scheme that is directly aimed at that young (reluctant) male reader. I made sure that the illustrations in this book were a gas (pun intended) as I knew it would take amazing illustrations and a humourous storyline to catch the attention of that reader. The problem, however, is that too many parents want their kids reading what they like, versus what the child likes. I tell parents of young boys in particular, that are refusing to read, to go out of their comfort zone a little and try a book that they might have otherwise passed over. Eventually, they will discover “that book” that starts the chain reaction, or one that stimulates the lifelong reader!
So, just ten minutes of insightful, engaged reading (with books that interest your child) is all it takes!
Troy Kent, a graduate of Acadia University, has been a high school English teacher for over twenty years. His first book is titled The Reading Promise, and it was published in 2014. It recently won a 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, a 2015 BookChoice4U Book Award (England), and a 2015 Mom's Choice Award (Gold). He has already published a second book, Stinky Blinky, and his third book is coming out soon. Troy was recently featured on CBC Radio One during a live interview, and he has been asked to be a guest author/speaker during the 60th anniversary of The Michigan Reading Association’s annual conference in March, 2016. A father of five, Troy also enjoys coaching high school football.
For more information, please visit www.troykent.com
And let's not forget his other book...
I just want to say a huge thank you to Troy for his guest post today and congratulate him on his book "The Reading Promise." He has been picking up awards many awards as it is recognized for it's powerful message, one that has made a great impact on the reading world for sure. I am so proud of his work and the recognition his book is receiving and rightly deserves. If you haven't read it yet, please do, it's a winner indeed.
Read on and read always!
It's a wrap.
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