Monday, December 27, 2010

Mat Sat! Sam Sat!: What to do with Bob Books

Nuvy Sat.  Nuvy read Bob books.  Mom and Dad Sat And Tapped.
 Why are Bob books so awfully dull?
When the first Bob book came home, I was reminded of all the parents who didn't understand how we use Bob books at school.  They would say "why did you send this one home?  She can read this one already!  Please send home a new book for us to work on."
We didn't, and your child's teacher probably won't either, because that is not what Bob books are for.  If you want to read with your child at home, and I hope you do, pick a nice story you both enjoy and read it.  When the Bob books (or Mac and Tab) come home, they are for showing off mastered reading skills--not for homework, and parent, be glad!
See, Bob books are boring as hell to read, but they are an awesome reading diagnostic tool.  The teacher can tell if your child is associating the right sounds with letters, and can make other assessments about your child's reading by going through the bob books, but we don't use them to "teach" children to read.  The rest of the curriculum does that.  The books are just there to show us how we're doing, and help us find any problems. Bob books are designed to strip down narrative as much as possible, so that there is some sense to the sounds, but that's all.  The pictures help the child self-correct, but are not overly engaging, so as not to compete too much with the text for attention.  We send them home because your child is proud of her accomplishment, and wants to share it with you!
When a Bob book comes home, the thing to do is listen to your child as she reads it, and thank her for sharing the story with you.  She might make mistakes, but you needn't correct her.  She's learning to read!  Feel free to be amazed!!
In short, please do not, when "Mat" comes home for the first time, go out and buy all the Bob books and push your child to read them all through.  This is a recipe for frustration on all sides, and probably not a good way to encourage a love for reading.  She will read them all in time, and probably less time than you think.  Instead, read books you love together.  Read poetry!  Read comic books!  Let your child see how much fun written words can be. 


Renee said...

THIS IS AWESOME. I was worried when I saw that book cover on the post (before having read it), but this is so true of the parental experience of reading materials that come home from school. When we stopped sending readers home (because they had become less of a point of arrival and more a teaching tool in our class), many parents were outraged... some teachers even scoffed that we had removed them entirely (with the excuse being the consultant). It seems as though the parents in our class were more concerned with teaching reading than loving reading, and the invisible work that happens with the moveable alphabet and phonograms within the classroom is a difficult thing to swallow for parents whose friends' kids bring home boatloads of paperwork daily from their pre-schools and kindergartens. The horribly dull books would even be horribly dull if they had explosions and fairydust in them... because your child is READING THEM! (cue the angels singing, that post was also hilarious and beautiful, by the way) Witnessing the explosion into writing and the explosion into reading is one of the most amazing experiences of my life (and I haven't even had that experience with my own children yet... I look forward to sharing their first Bob Books with them).

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