the newsletter

Reading Matters

July 18, 2022

Before I launch into all of the practical stuff about my journey to feeling so strongly about sharing why reading matters, let’s start off with a little story.

Part 1: I believed reading matters

When I was in graduate school, I learned a lot about the importance of modeling reading and writing for my students. I was so ready to march into my first classroom and really read and write alongside the thirty-two middle schoolers in the room with me to inspire them to read and write more on their own.

What I didn’t realize was that I was NOT yet the teacher my seasoned Northwestern professor who inspired me was, and I DEFINITELY DID NOT have the classroom management skills necessary to silently lead a classroom of sixth graders into new worlds of understanding about how much reading matters. It was a total disaster. 

I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen yet, but I still believed in modeling. 

Part 2: the missing piece was teamwork

Flash forward a few years and a lot of failed attempts: I became the teacher who other teachers would come to to say, “Today the 8th graders asked if I would write alongside them like you do, and it was the best class we’ve had!” Not to brag, but I. WAS. PROUD. Thank you to my professor who told me to do it, and thank you to those teachers who have written books with strategies that feel like they only work in utopias. 

Well, the thing is, along the way, I started thinking about how, even though my job was to be a READING teacher, it didn’t have to be my job alone to teach students to enjoy fiction and have the stamina to finish a book. But my colleagues – both my close coworkers in my building and the strangers I followed on Instagram or read about in The Atlantic – struggle with getting middle and high school students to read, both in and outside of school. 

Part 3: I realized that raising families who read + talk about reading matters most

So, that’s when it struck me: teachers and parents really do need to work together. We all want what’s best for our children, but nobody’s helping us! I’m grateful that I’m able to support my child (even though he’s still a toddler) with the skills I know he needs to be a critical thinker and caring communicator, but that’s because I’m BOTH a mother AND a teacher who ALSO happens to love thinking about how to solve problems when I can’t fix a whole system. (We all have our things, right?) 

 I also know I don’t know everything and can’t do it alone and that teachers and parents are all strapped for time. Life DOES move quickly. There are a lot of barriers and questions that we don’t even know exist until we’re too frustrated to figure it out. Sometimes it’s all we can do to set the microwave timer for ten minutes and scroll our phones while making dinner and telling our teenager to please read so we can sign the log and get on with the night. 

Part 4: Nobody has to do it alone

Enter Reading and Writing Matters and my mission to give parents and caregivers the tools to create a space where reading and writing are both valued and practiced. Where we stress less and connect more. Where we are partners (not strangers or micro-managers) in our child’s education. 

We can raise children who read, write, think, AND do whatever their other things are. The world needs everyone’s interests, but we have to be able to think and communicate well. And we don’t have to spend more than 20 minutes a day to get there.  

It takes a village, they tell us, and then we see all these memes that say, “I’m still waiting for that village.” Well, let’s make the reading and writing village. You with me?

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