7 Rookie Mom Reading Mistakes (Part 1)

This post is the first in a three part series. 

You know what teachers have that parents don’t? Do-overs. There aren’t nearly as many do overs in parenting.

When I taught sixth grade Reading and Social
Studies I loved being able to revise lessons on the fly. When something didn’t
work with the first class, I could tweak the lesson for the second class.
Whenever I finished a unit, I took time to reflect and make (at least mental)
notes on what I’d change the following year. Of course different groups of kids
have varying personalities and learning styles, but you really do learn from


The same goes for parenting, of course. My oldest child is sort of like that first period class. I get a do-over with his little sisters. I know — they’re completely different kids, but at least now I know which way is up!
Teaching middle school reading did give me some helpful insight, but, let’s face it, I
was used to students arriving in my classroom already knowing how to read
fairly well. I knew only the basics about how children learn to read in the
first place. Letter sounds? Sight words? That was new territory.

I definitely made some rookie mistakes helping my son learn to read. I want to share them with you, and tell you about how my do-over is different.


Mistake #1 – Being a Control Freak

Blog series about how to get your kids to love reading - #1 Give them controlI was so proud when my son learned all his letter
sounds and started to understand how to put together a few simple words. With
excitement, I went online and ordered the first little box of Bob Books.
When they arrived, I hid the special box in my closet, safe
from little hands that could tear it, or horrors!
 try to read a book out of

Careful Introduction

I pulled out just Book 1 and carefully introduced it, going
over all the sounds listed on the first page. My son plowed through it, and
was brimming with excitement about his accomplishment. Yes, it was painful to hear him sound
out all those 3 letter words one sound at a time, but he was reading!

Next, I pulled out Book 2 and presented it to him. He read
it with much pride and excitement.
And so we continued book by book. 

A Realization

I can tell you exactly where his excitement broke down. It
was when I had brought out enough of the books that I decided to get out the
cute little box the set comes in. Suddenly, he realized that I had been holding
out books on him.
He realized that he wasn’t the one in control.

Lesson Learned

If you want your child to internalize a love for reading,
you’re going to have to give up some control. There is actually scholarly research which supports this idea – of course I didn’t read it until
it was too late. Wiser parents provide appropriate and engaging books, but let
kids discover them on their own terms and in their own time.

So with my twins, who are 3 years younger, I am doing
things differently.  We now
own the first four boxes of Bob Books, plus the Sight Words set. They are all
out on the bookshelf.Except when they’re all over the playroom, actually being
read and played with.
Blog series about how to get your kids to love reading - #1 Give them control

(Links in the above section are Amazon Affiliate links – mostly for your convenience, but also Amazon will pay me a small commission if you choose to buy from them – thanks for your support.)

Mistake #2 – Restricting Choice

this: it’s the summer after kindergarten. A mom (yes – that’s me) with an
active six year old boy and three year old twin girls dutifully takes her
little crew to the library.

Mom’s Choices

She steers her
rising first grader to the Early Reader books, but he isn’t interested. He prefers
to play and look at picture books that are too hard for him to read himself. Mom
persists, presenting him with book after book that might actually be at his
the twins are running in opposite directions around the children’s area,
pausing only to pull books off shelves. Mom imagines the dirty looks behind her
back. She quickly grabs a few books that seem suitable, and they head to the
check out.
Is it surprising
that when we got home my son wasn’t interested in reading the books I picked
out for him? What would have been the harm in checking out the books he liked,
and just reading them to him if they were too difficult to read himself? On the
second or third reading we could have looked for sight words together, or
paused to notice a phonics rule or two. Oh… hindsight.

Lesson Learned

Kids, even
little kids, need choice. There is so much in their lives that grownups are
dictating, that they cherish anything that they get to choose themselves.
My twins
surprise me all the time with the books they pick. Sometimes they select
something that seems too hard, yet they struggle to read anyway. Sometimes they
choose something that seems too easy, yet they read it over and over. Often,
they turn it over halfway through for me to read to them.


It’s all
reading, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good.
Please check back next week for the rest of this series. Continue reading about my rookie mistakes in Part 2.


  1. Eek – I'm afraid I'm a bit neurotic about reading the BOB books out of order, too, lol! Thank you for this series – I found the tips very helpful!

    1. I'm happy to hear I have company in being neurotic about Bob Books. It's taken me a long time to come around to trusting that my kids will work on what they're ready for.

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