All hail the power of the “home run book!” Our 9 year old started third grade reading almost on grade level but a little low, but in the last two months has found and ravenously consumed his first “home run book” – Eragon. Dr. Stephen Krashen (author of “The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research”) shared that term with me and many others at the Encyclomedia conference in Oklahoma City this past fall. Today with his report card, Alexander brought home the following note:
I recognize the STAR reading test is just an estimate of reading skills, but it is wonderful to see it reflect a TWO grade level increase in reading ability in about 4 months. My wife and I can attest to this ourselves, since his improved fluency is quite evident when he reads aloud to us. He wakes up in the morning and reads, and even asked to read today after school instead of playing at the playground. (We’re not going to abandon playground play, of course, but I can relate to how he feels drawing close to the end of a good book– I have felt the same way near the end of a Tom Clancy novel!) This is a HUGE change in behavior for him when it comes to reading. Thank you Christopher Paolini! Thank you WikiPedia!
Note that this HUGE jump in reading ability is NOT due to an expensive and research-based phonics program implemented in the school. It is NOT due to a rigorous battery of benchmark reading tests that are administered every two weeks at school. This is NOT due to a ream of worksheets and spelling tests forced down the throats of learners every week in school. This improvement in reading is due to a simple but powerful dynamic: the habitual act of READING regularly, after finding reading material that is of interest and engaging to the learner!
The fact that Alexander is loving to read is not just a reflection on him finding a book he loves: It is also a VERY positive reflection on his teacher who loves to read and encourages her students to read every day (and provides them with time to do so), and a positive reflection on his choice of friends at school– many of whom are well-read and share their love of reading frequently with each other.
Hallelujah! We are so happy for him, I feel like dancing! Report cards and grades can be overrated, but the cultivation of a true love of reading is a REAL BIG DEAL that deserves celebration. Alexander has now officially joined “the literacy club.”
We’ll have to figure out a meaningful way to celebrate with him when he finishes Eragon, which will probably happen this week or next. For now, I’ve commemmorated this moment by creating a new WikiPedia entry for “Home Run Book!” 🙂 I think Dr. Jeff McQuillan coined the phrase based on what Dr. Krashen said at Encyclomedia, but I’m not sure. If you have more ideas or information related to this term, please edit and add to the WikiPedia page I’ve started!
Addendum: Dr. Krashen chimed in and corrected me: Jim Trelease originally coined the term “home run book.”
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