I can admit now that I have been very worried about Charlie. He is almost 8 years old, in 2nd grade, and has mightily struggled with reading. I was concerned that he would never catch on. We went through the 1st grade readers last year, story by painful story, sometimes tripping on every word. In September we started the 2nd grade set, only to return to the pre-primer after a month to start all over again. This time around he did better and we are now more than halfway through this year's books. Every story is still a challenge, but the other morning I came upstairs from sewing to overhear Charlie reading (not flawlessly, but giving it his best) a picture book about farm animals to his little brother.
My philosophy has always been to surround the children with books, creating a "print-rich environment" as the experts call it. The result is 10 bookcases of children's books, encompassing everything from board books to Latin for Dummies, a huge collection of classics, and Landmark books, as well as a large selection of non-fiction. We also make frequent trips to many libraries in Maine, owning 5 library cards in various towns. My job of organizing and returning books is worth the exposure to new material. The kids are free to read in bed with flashlights, free to curl up on the sofa reading on rainy afternoons, free to play "library" by stacking books all over my living room on occasion. I don't require a certain amount of reading time each day, I just tempt them with dramatic read-alouds, filling my tote bag with recommendations from enthusiastic children's librarians, and stocking the coffee table with colorful storybooks.
My goal is to have children who love to read, who understand the power of a great story, and benefit academically and emotionally from voracious reading. If I can keep these children playing outdoors daily, reading each day, and praying every evening then no matter what else happens I'm sure they will turn out all right.