A Rich Reading Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge today, November 12th, 2019.

“Time for lights out, honey,” I whispered to my oldest daughter, now ten years-old.  I could see that the pale light emanating from her flashlight was now luminescing the room beyond her bedtime.

“Aww, Papa…but I only have four chapters to go.”  Her words were more a question than a statement.  A veiled request for more reading time.  Although for the sake of her rest and cognitive regeneration I should have insisted she extinguish the light and go to sleep…I didn’t. I relented.

So the light stayed on.

Exiting the room, I found myself thinking about something author and keynote speaker Stephanie Harvey said last week at the Connecticut Reading Association Conference: “All readers deserve a rich reading life.”  I would venture to say refusing to turn out the light so that the last few chapters of Louisiana’s Way Home may be read by flashlight is perhaps the mark of a rich reading life; a mark for which I, of course, feel great pride.  But I worry about all the kids for whom the joy of a rich reading life has not yet been their reality.  The kids for whom that light is not yet lit.  And I worry about what Maryanne Wolf has written about in her book, Reader Come Home (2018) in regards to readers growing up in this digital age.  In discussing the dearth of research conducted around the formation of the reading brain “while immersed in a digitally dominated medium,” she writes, “There will be profound differences in how we read and how we think depending on which processes dominate the formation of the young child’s reading circuit” (p. 8).

But I suppose this worry gives meaning to the mission of a Literacy Specialist.  How can we ignite the light inside all children? I wonder. I travel to work each day with this question before me, knowing it is not an easy one to answer.  But nonetheless a worthy mission to pursue.

I’ll also travel today knowing the light for my own child still shines brightly.  And that’s something.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

3 thoughts on “A Rich Reading Life”

  1. I love this post. I’ve long since past the time of raising my own readers, but I struggle every day with this question for my students. How do we ignite the light for reading? I also have those readers I have to ask over and over to close their books so that I can start the lesson. Five more minutes? I usually give in. It’s such a peaceful sound, kids deep into reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wrote about my daughter reading alongside me today too. It’s funny how we look so closely at our children’s reading habits because of what we do.

    BTW: I think it’s good that you allowed her to read on so she could finish the book. As she gets older, she’ll learn when she’s reached her limit as a person in terms of fatigue. Sometimes that natural fatigue makes me close a book even when I really want to read on.


  3. And I sometimes remind myself the light has a dimmer switch. Sometimes we need to turn it up and sometimes it may slide back down. The research on adolescents always concerns me in terms of this idea you mention. Reading lives are hard to come by and for my own children are once again, at times, dim. I think it really is all about helping kids find the brightness, the ease, and the joy and when their switch dims, maybe someone will come along and help them brighten it up again. By the way, Louisiana is absolutely worth staying up a little later, I love her character and that book can’t be put down.

    Liked by 1 person

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