Last year I was starting to get really nervous about Charlie's reading skills. The other boys in his Cub Scout den were reading directions to various projects from their Wolf books aloud while Charlie was barely sounding out the words. I vowed that night to repeat all his 1st grade readers because it was obvious that he was struggling too much. I heard from the Cub Scout dads that they made their boys read for 30 minutes every night, while my 7 year old was still content to listen to me read picture books with his younger siblings.
But like the tortoise in Aesop's fable, my 4th child is now reading well. I didn't push him beyond his comfort level, but he did practice reading and phonics every day and now he doesn't blanch at 6 page stories in his Faith and Freedom reader. He also walked to the library after his piano lesson on Friday and checked out several Magic Treehouse books, and he is actually reading them for fun.
The big kids have mentioned several times that they seems to be called on in class to read aloud more often because they are such good readers. My guess is that all the dramatic reading of picture books to Timmy and Julia Ellen has paid off in terms of style. Even Julia Ellen practices reading with inflection as she sits on the floor flipping pages of the practically memorized Green Eggs and Ham while lisping, "I will not eat them in a BOX! I will not eat them with a FOX!"
My technique to encourage life-long readers by teaching the basics of phonics, requiring a small amount of reading aloud starting in 1st grade, and providing a plethora of interesting reading material seems to have worked. Only 2 more children left and I will be able to see my ideal Sunday afternoon come to life, a living room full of children draped all over the furniture, all so quiet you could hear a mouse squeak, because everyone is concentrating deeply on what they are reading.