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Gillispie School / Elementary  / Reading: The Best Gift

Reading: The Best Gift

Last weekend, I took my daughters to the LA Times Festival of Books, which is held every April on the campus of the University of Southern California. During the Q&A portion of a talk by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, my elder daughter asked, “What did you like to read as a kid?” DiCamillo answered, “If it was a book, I liked it.” I asked DiCamillo what advice she had for kids who want to grow up to be writers. She said, “Read as much as you can. It is the most important thing.”

I have a personal passion for reading, and it is my goal to ignite that same passion in each of my students. Reading helps us learn about ourselves, about others, and about the world. Reading is the key to all future learning, both in and out of school.

Although I have long been aware of the links between reading and writing, it was not until this week that I realized how vital simply reading is for improving writing. The most recent issue of Educational Leadership focuses on improving writing instruction. They advocate increasing reading volume as a primary strategy to improve student writing. In the words of Frank Smith, author of Reading without Nonsense, “You learn to read by reading, and you learn to write by reading.”


The gift of being a reader is the best gift you can give to your child. If your child already has a passion for books, you can keep the fire lit by discussing their books with them, visiting their favorite libraries and bookstores, and perhaps even trekking up to Los Angeles for a book festival. (There is a similar book fest in San Diego; this year it takes place August 25.)

If your student has not yet developed this passion for reading, I urge you to do everything in your power to light that fire and reading the priority it needs to be and deserves to be.

  • Read books aloud to your child
  • Give books as gifts
  • Spend time reading together at home
  • Let them see you read for pleasure
  • Talk about your favorite books
  • Ask the bookseller at your local bookshop for recommendations

At the end of our day in Los Angeles, my girls and I sat in awe listening to Leslie Odom Jr., of Hamilton fame, talking about his passion for theatre. His advice to people eager to make a living out of their passion was, “Keep walking toward the thing you love.”

Keep walking toward books. Keep walking toward reading. Make reading and writing the thing that you love.


Heidi Long

Grade 5 Teacher


About Gillispie School: We are an independent toddler through Grade 6 school in La Jolla, CA. We believe that learning is a journey in which children are active participants. Our students partner with teachers to further their academic, creative, and social growth, and we balance a child-centered approach that does not rush childhood with well-researched academic programs that demand higher-level thinking. Click here to learn more about our school.

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