teaching isn’t just my job, it’s my job.

Thanks to the makers of Pine-Sol® for sponsoring my writing. A study shows a clean smelling home can help children succeed, so Pine-Sol® is supporting Reading is Fundamental (RIF) this year. Click “Like” on Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page here and they will donate books to RIF!
I don’t remember books not being in my life.

Growing up, the bottom drawer of my dresser was so full of children’s books that the bottom eventually fell out from the weight.

My  mom always had a pile of books on top of the refrigerator from the library, and a few more on the front seat of her car waiting to be swapped out for new ones.

My dad was always reading the newspaper.

We had a set of encyclopedia and a set of childcraft encyclopedia.

Words were my life from early on.  In grade school I lived for scholastic book orders.  In middle school my mom brought me piles of books home from the library.  By high school?  I had decided that I wanted to read–and talk about those books–for the rest of my life.

And so I became an English teacher.

I have worked for over a decade encouraging kids to read…to entice them into becoming life-long readers.

The school I work in is filled with students who didn’t have their own books as kids.  They come to us behind…because they don’t know what it’s like to have books in their life for fun.

Not a couple years ago, after about 90% of one of my classes failed to do a short assigned reading assignment, I polled the class with this question: “How many of you had your own books as kids and were read to all the time.”

One girl raised her hand (she did the assignment, by the way).  I died a little inside.

That same year our school started doing RIF (reading is fundamental), a program that gives students free books.

I was suddenly aware of the gift my parents had given me.

Also that year I found out I was pregnant with my son.

Immediately, I gathered my favorite childhood books and piled them in the room that would be his.

I would sit in the middle of the room and read the books out loud to my dancing fetus.

A year later, I was reading Green Eggs and Ham to a squirmy infant.

Not long after that, we traded the “paper pages” for board books because he wanted to handle them and gnaw on the book clumsily turn the pages himself.

Now, as a 20-month old, he brings me book after book to read.  He points out the letters to me and says some of them.  He points out the kitties and the dogs and the moons and the balloons.

I burst with pride when his little finger points at the pictures as I read the words…as he examines each page before we turn it.

I know this is what my parents did.  And I know it is a large part of why I became a successful student…and teacher….and writer.

It is never ever too early to start reading with your children.  Each time you choose to put down your phone, or step away from your laptop (in my case) to read with your child, you are sending a message about what is important.

Each time your child sees you pick up a book or newspaper instead of watch a reality show?  You are showing your child where your priorities are and what you see as valuable.

Your child…and education are important.  Show this to your child.  Read with him/her.

Don’t forget to click over to Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page to support our children’s success. I was selected for this Pine-Sol® sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Today my post for The Red Dress Club is over at my other blog. Please click below to go there.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. LOVE this post.

    We were talking about our favorite things tonight. When it was my turn, I asked Joseph what he thought my favorite thing was. I was a little nervous that he was going to say email or the computer, but he said, “That’s easy. Reading. Because it’s fun.”

    It was just a little thing, but I felt like maybe, just maybe, my kids are going to get that reading is a life-long joy.

  2. Amen! Reading is SO important. And can be such a great bonding experience. Even though I have a teenager who doesn’t read much, when he has read something that really inspires or angers or tickles him, he’ll share that with me. And my preteen, he’s a reader! I can’t keep up with him anymore (and I’m a librarian!)

  3. Roy Black says

    Mark Twain said that those who do not read have no advantage over those who can not read. I would extend that to say that those who read regularly should not be surprised when their children become good readers. When people see the reading ability of our children, they often give credit to the fact that my wife and I are teachers. That seems funny to me, since we did the least–educationally, that is–with our youngest, who is quickly becoming the best reader of the bunch. One thing she did get, though, are strong examples of a love of reading. Our love of reading was there for all of our children to see, and I am convinced that their love of and success with reading comes mainly from the fact that they saw their parents buying, borrowing, reading, discussing, exchanging, and devouring books.

  4. We have so many books in my house we’re running out of places to put them! I grew up like that, too.

    There are many nights where I get mad at my daughter for staying up too late reading, knowing she has to get up too early in the morning. But I have to stop and remind myself that I would rather her read and be tired the next day than go without.

  5. My parents used to read to me too. Now with my son, we read before bedtime and before naps. So
    Sometimes, I’ll catch him in the middle of the room or huddled in a corner with a book reading out loud. I can see his imagination soar.
    Reading is a powerful thing.

  6. I’ve always said, who needs a decorator, just line the walls with shelves upon shelves of books. I read like crazy. My oldest hates to read and it kills me. My youngest has a book from Hallmark which his grandmother recorded for him. I get a kick out of how he ‘reads’ it backwards. I love this post!

  7. What a wondeful post. I loved this clever assignment because what could be cooler than writing about books and getting them to kids who need them? I, like you, have been a life long lover of books and my 3 small children are following in my footsteps. It is awesome! I only wish that all kids had the quality time with books that we are able to give our kids! And board books…life savers for those little gummers who still want to read!

  8. Sara @ Mom Endeavors says

    Love this post! We have similar experiences and thoughts! 🙂

  9. So, so, so true. I cannot possibly agree more with this. Granted, a kid has to actually enjoy reading (we were all read to, equally, but I think I’m the only one who became passionate about it – the other three vary in levels of appreciation for books) but you have to give them that opportunity to pick up on it and develop a love for it. I feel so sorry for kids who don’t have that chance.

  10. I think reading to your child is vital. It gives them a foundation for learning that they will build on for a lifetime.

  11. Amen. It is so so so sad how many kids have never been read to or know HOW to handle books. It is absurd. My child, who is not even born yet, has more books than some of those kids will touch before they enter school. So so sad. Like you, my parents got the newspaper every day, we read articles together every day. We watched the nightly news together. We read books, magazines and signs to each other. Reading was everywhere. It was not a chore, it was just life, and fun!

  12. The rule in my house is that you can never have too many books.

  13. The bottom fell out of my dresser with the weight of books too.
    They were a huge part of my youth and are now a huge part of my daughters.

  14. I love this so much.

    Books have always been a huge part of my life. When I was a kid, they were my friends, my escape, my shelter, my first love.

    When we move, more than half of the boxes we have to pack contain my books (then there are also boxes for my daughter’s books!! My husband is not much of a reader, so I think he just has one or two book boxes).

  15. Love, love reading!! I adored reading to my kids and they both like to read still. My biggest problem now is making time for myself to read. I get too busy with blogging and reading blogs, but I love books too!

  16. I have always loved reading!! My husband and I-both teachers. Read constantly to 2 little guys who grew into bigger guys not at all interested in reading 🙁 But, hold on, give it time…eventually both became readers again as adults!! Hurray!

  17. On the first day of every schoolyear, I’d ask my senior English students (SENIORS) to be honest and raise their hands if they had actually never actually read an entire book (excluding novels read with a class, cliffnotes, etc.). They would laugh nervously and then several (SEVERAL) would raise their hands.

    And I taught in a wealthy school district. These kids could have had MOUNTAINS of books at their disposal. Probably did. I’m sure their parents bought tons of beautiful books to decorate their adorable nurseries and kids’ rooms…

    But if you’re not sitting down with your child, working at setting an example, it might not happen. My son loved to read the second he was left to his own devices. My daughter? Not so much. Not at all, really. And they’re 24 months apart and I read to both of then constantly. So some of it is innate. But what is “nurture” and not “nature” I attempt to nurture as much as possible.

    I take my girl to the library and bookstore. And every day, I sit down at a location of her choice and tickle her back or stroke her feet the entire time we read together. When she was younger I’d do a page, then she’d do a page. She’s 11 now. And she still doesn’t LOVE reading. But she loves time with me. And I make it for her.

    I wish I could supply books to every kid without a book. And the provide a parent who will sit down and read to every kid who HAS a book, but no one to stroke his/her feet while reading.

    You are a great teacher for your students and an even better teacher for Eddie. Kudos to you on this post (and sorry I wrote so long. I feel strongly about this topic. Obviously).