MESSAGE TO PARENTS VIII
Reading for Learning and Enjoyment By Dr. David E. Weischadle, Education Specialist Professionals who teach reading and language arts are as surprised as are publishers that the books of J. K. Rowling (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”) are on the bestsellers’ lists of many newspapers. In fact, Rowling’s third book of the Harry Potter series (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) is now in the bookstores in the United States. In an era of television, computer games, and the Internet, the fact that children and their parents are reading books and enjoying them is a welcome departure from what seems to be the norm today. Many years ago, Kumon found that good stories are a vital element in getting youngsters to read, and keep them reading. Children love a good story whether it focuses on reality or creates fantasies to be imagined. But even more important is the impetus and spirit a good story gives to reading improvement and language development. Consider the story of “The Conductor” (CI 11-20). A young girl joins her mother, a subway train conductor, on a trip in a snowstorm. In this story, the student reads an interesting story and writes responses in sentences about this city experience and the finding of a special friend. Later in the worksheets (CI 111-120), you will meet a young boy from China named Yan. Yan wants to be a painter and works as an apprentice for a horrible taskmaster named Dadan. In his studies, young Yan discovers a great painter, Rong-Wu. Yan “would do anything in the world to be able to meet Rong-Wu and learn from such a great master.” The story ends beautifully for Yan, enchanting the reader’s spirit and improving the reader’s comprehension. In “The Parrot” (BI 31-40), readers come across Pablo who paints a brightly-colored parrot which comes alive. Kidded by his fellow students, the little boy runs home and goes to his room. Attempting to paint the parrot opened Pablo up to ridicule but it also brought him great joy. The story blends the real and the make-believe, and is a delight to read and discuss. Later in the worksheets (BI 161-170), a young boy finds a small shiny stone which becomes his special possession. “The Lucky Charm” describes how the boy thought he did well on a test and hit a ball really far because of the charm. Only after he loses it a second time does he realize that it is something other than luck that is enabling him to do well. A bittersweet story is the one called “The Tin Soldier” (CI 41-50). A toy soldier with his leg broken off sees a beautiful toy ballerina. As she stands on one leg, the soldier thought she, too, had only one leg. He longs to meet the ballerina and share his experiences with her. They are finally united, but you must read the story to find out how that happens. These wonderful stories are what reading is all about. Enjoyment and satisfaction are equally important as the mechanics of reading. The mechanics enable your youngster to understand what the author is trying to say. So, you need one to get the other. This is where Kumon helps! Youngsters reading these stories often want to talk about them. Could the event really happen? Where did the story come from? Can you read the story to me? Can we read it together? If your youngster isn’t in the Kumon Reading Program, ask your Instructor to see copies of these stories. Read them, and then tell your youngster about them. Consider the Kumon Reading Program as another way to complement school-based learning. ©1999 Kumon USA, Inc.