mother and child reading

Growing Readers: Interview with Local Reading Professional Gary Johnston

Clearview Library District Growing Readers

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Growing Readers is a monthly article offering parents and caregivers information on early childhood development and how to foster young readers and learners.

Many teachers and librarians are passionate about kids learning to love reading. One of these is retired Poudre School District teacher Gary Johnston, Clearview Library District regular. He says some of his “most rewarding memories as a teacher were in helping families change reading at home from a school behavior to a family behavior. That change is the foundation in teaching children to love to read.” 

When families read together, the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that language skills improve when they enter school, and the reading time creates a nurturing relationship between parent and child, which is beneficial for cognitive and socio-emotional development. 

Johnston believes that many people think it’s a given that some kids will love reading, and others will hate it. However, he says, “The reality is that if children aren’t taught to love to read, they will learn to dislike it. Children learn to love to read by reading with people they love. To a child, ‘Let’s read,’ is love … ‘Go read,’ is work. It’s not about what they are reading as much as it’s about who they are reading with.” 

He encourages parents to continue to read to and with their children for as long as they can. “Two thirds of parents stop reading to their children by the end of first grade. In my parent talk I share a poem: ‘If I read to my child until he’s just 5, his love of reading won’t survive. But if I’ll read to him until he’s 10, his love of reading will never end.’”  

Resources

View Johnston’s parent talk below. “Over 30 years, literally hundreds of families opened their homes to me and let me watch how they handled reading at home with their children,” Johnston said. “The video is a result of their kindness in allowing me to share their wisdom in how to teach children to love to read. Hopefully their kindness will lead to many success stories to come.”