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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On Robin Smith’s “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” (from 2003)

robinsmith_170x257“Despite the pressures of parents and the winds of educational change, I do not teach children to read because it is good for them. To me, books are not meant to be the path to Harvard or even the best high school. I do not think of them as ‘tools for learning,’ a phrase I read in a teacher catalog. I read with children because I enjoy it. I read because they enjoy it.”

If I could conjure up the perfect teacher for my kids, Robin Smith would fit the bill. She reminds me of the best teachers I had growing up, whose love for the profession and enthusiasm for their work were infectious. Somehow they managed to encourage success no matter a child’s learning style or abilities. In short: they were miracle workers.

Robin is a second-grade teacher in Nashville and we live outside of Boston, so my kids won’t benefit from her miracles in the classroom unless I can clone her. Luckily, she shares her wisdom as co-author of the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog and via her reviews and articles in The Horn Book Magazine. In “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” from the September/October 2003 Magazine, Robin looks back on her bookish childhood and how it informs her work as a book-loving teacher. I am going to channel my inner-Robin and try to follow her lead at home: “Fostering a thirst for books is a subtle art. I try to create a classroom where stories are valued and characters are loved. I make teaching decisions with one simple thought in mind: reading is fun.”

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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