One of my (many) pet peeves is treating reading like a race: children have to be reading at four!* Reading Animal Farm in 4th Grade! None of those babyish books, give them the books that can then be checked off the list, so that the parents can modestly brag about how their darling read Harry Potter at six and now at thirteen it, in its entirety, is just too childish for their genius. Reading books is a huge race to see who is going to finish reading all the books first.
So it was with great interest that I read Jen Robinson's Reading Ahead Of Grade Level, Or Not. Which led me to All in the Timing: Why Reading Ahead of Your Grade Level isn't Necessarily a Good Thing at Babble. Great conversations going on in comments to both Jen's post and the Babble article. I particular like the comments which admitted to "showing off" about their reading, and how they quickly gave up "showing off" when adults stopped reacting and the books proved boring.
My favorite quotes from All in the Timing: "But I'm cautious too, knowing that reading a book at the wrong time can be worse than not reading it at all." Talking about reading The Princess Bride at 11: "Golding's lampooning of fairytale conventions is hilarious for adults. But as a child, it just hurt my feelings."
Of course, the bottom line is two-fold: Don't make reading a race. Respect a child's reading choices.
*A whole other rant is the parents of said children insisting that this is a reflection of their superior parenting skills. They read to their child since the womb! Have many books in their house! Go to the library and bookstore and model reading and if you had only done all this, your child would be reading Charles Dickens at five, also, instead of those baby books. At which point the parent of the child reading on (or under) level thinks, "I did all that, also" and wants to resort to violence. And it's another rant on why we want all children to be lockstep; some people will discover the joy of reading at 5. Others at 25. It's all good.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy