Rudey's Room

A Mathematical Reason to Read 20 Minutes a Night

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

– Dr. Seuss


As we’re rounding out of March – National Reading Month – let’s take a moment to celebrate reading, shall we?

Since you’re reading this I’d wager … you like to read.

At my first grader’s curriculum night, her teacher passed out a standard packet, which noted the expectations and procedures for the school year. One guideline – set at most schools – was highlighted: Read with your child for at least 20 minutes a night.

On the last page was a printout as to why. Here it is:

Why Complete Nightly Reading? 

Let’s figure it out mathematically!

  • Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week.
  • Student B reads only 4 minutes a night…or not at all!

Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 each week.

  • Student A reads 20 minutes x 5 times a week = 100 mins. a week.
  • Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes.

Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.

  • Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
  • Student B reads 80 minutes a month.

Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months a school year.

  • Student A reads 3600 minutes a school year.
  • Student B reads 720 minutes a school year.

Student A practices reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.  Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.

By the end of 6th grade, if Student A and Student B maintain these same reading  habits, Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days.  Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 days.

Isn’t that wild? It’s simple math, but I was quite wowed.

With that, I’ll share a few thoughts on reading:

  • Read it again…read it again. How many times have you heard that? I’ve read Pete the Cat twenty-three times. And that was just last week. I’ve resorted to hiding The Best Nest once or twice, when I couldn’t take another read. I just can’t seem to find it. Yet as you tire of the repetitive stories, your kiddo is slowly memorizing the lines. The next stop is encouraging her to “read” the story to you, using what she’s memorized to retell it. Then before you know it, you’ve got a reader. And then that reader can read to her sibling(s)! (The first time that happened, it brought tears to my eyes).
  • Read and discuss. Ask your child questions about the illustrations and the story. Ask her to make predictions. Teach her to use context cues. Expand on what she says and add on your own responses. Ask him what he is noticing or what lines he likes on the page. Let her guide the conversation. Talking about reading, models to your child how to discuss books and enhances his ability to recall what was read. If you build story time into your nightly routine, it’s also a calm time to chat and to learn each other’s stories.
  • Refer to reading as fun. Talk about the book you are reading and let your children see you flipping through a magazine. There’s a difference between talking about reading as work as opposed to referring to it as fun. You can’t go out and play. You have to read your book. Ouch. Framed like that, reading sounds so dull. Or set it up it like Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Cool, I want spend time reading.
  • What Readers Do. In Choice Words: How our Language Affects Children’s Learning, the author invites us to slightly tweak what we say to kidsInstead of “You’re really a good reader,” he suggests saying, “You’re really quite a reader.” I like how this outlines the standards for measurement without judgements, (no good readers do this or bad readers do that). He simply writes about readers. Readers ask questions, check for understanding, make connections to their lives, spend time reading, and on and on.

What’s on your nightstand? I’m reading Gone Girl. It’s chilling, but well-written, and oh so good.



P.S. Esme Codell, a CPS librarian, wrote an excellent resource on how to get your child to love reading.

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