“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass
There are many ways to read with your child and encourage a love of reading. There are also some specific ways you can provide support to your child as she reads. In this post, I will start by describing how I developed a love of reading and how I encouraged my kids to read at home. Then I will briefly describe some of the ways reading is done in schools and the purpose for reading in various ways that can be done at home to support your child’s reading progress and enjoyment.
I have to be honest and say that much of what I learned about instilling a love of reading came from two experiences. The first occurred in the early 1980’s when a door-to-door sales lady came to my house and offered my mom a subscription to a Scholastic Children’s Book club. I was only about six or so and my mom must have thought it was a good deal because she bought the subscription. I received a book every month and grew my own personal children’s library.
I still have my books which I treasure and read to my kids. In my house growing up I only spoke Spanish. My parents spoke English but they felt strongly that we only speak Spanish at home. Having this collection of books as child helped me to learn to read in English, build my vocabulary and introduced me to wonderful children’s authors and characters. My parents read the books to me before I could read them on my own. I remember asking (insisting) my mom read Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall and Curious George by H.A. Rey over and over and over again.
The second experience that helped me understand how to the reading process was a Children’s Literature class I took in college (UT Austin). In the class I learned about the importance of providing the appropriate books for children based on their age, reading ability and interests. The course also introduced me to many more children’s authors, series and genres. This was also about the time I began collecting children’s books. I expanded my childhood collection and built up my classroom library for my first and second grade students. I introduced them to the authors and characters I loved as a child through our read aloud time.
Reading Aloud at Home
Reading aloud to your child is something that can be done for many years. It does not have to stop when they become independent readers. My children are now 7-, 11-, and 13- years old and I still read aloud to them. We have read the Harry Potter series, books by Pam Munoz Ryan, Roald Dahl and many others. I believe you are never too old to listen to a good story. Sometimes we read at night before bed, sometimes I read while they eat snack after school or while they build with Legos, draw or otherwise hang out quietly while I read.
Since the beginning of the year, my youngest has been waking up early to spend time reading books together. We carve out 30-45 minutes every morning for read aloud before getting ready for school. When my daughter was about his age, we read Little Women together and other books with strong female characters. Reading together is a wonderful to have shared experience and to connect with my kids. It is also fun to read a book together and follow it with a family movie night.
Shared reading often occurs naturally when young children are read the same book over and over again, such as with Good Night Moon and other favorites. In the classroom shared reading occurs when the teacher and the child or children share the same book or poem and the the text visible to all. The teacher will introduce the story or poem, vocabulary and concepts that may be new to some children. The adult does most of the reading but children often join in when text is repeated and during following readings. The group works together to read tricky words and discuss the story. The teacher provides a lot of support to the children as they read together.
Image taken from *https://clipartxtras.com/categories/view/154135faaafbe5b14292adcafa1334cdcc2dfbe9/shared-reading-clipart.html
The teacher chooses a book or text based on a child’s reading level and introduces the book. The child reads the whole book or text to themselves with guided support and prompts from the teacher. The child does the work of reading with some adult support. Scholastic.com provides a chart that lists guided reading levels, DRA levels and Lexile Levels and the grade that they correspond to. Your child may be reading ahead or below what the chart states for his grade. If you child is reluctant to read it is important to introduce him to books about his topic of interest and spend more time reading books to him.
*Image taken from https://cilp-art.net/guided-reading-clipart/guided-reading-clipart-guided-reading-guided-reading-clipart-476-347/
Children can read independently at different stages. For example, young children may be able to read beginning chapter books but not necessarily chapter books made for middle school children. As your child grows and develops more reading skills and maturity he can read more complex books. It is important to note that many children’s picture books contain more complex language and story lines than many simple beginning chapter books. In order to become independent readers, children are usually able to read age-appropriate books fluently and are able to understand the story. Any text of interest can be used for independent reading; cook books, non-fiction books, instruction manuals, magazines, poetry, and graphic novel, comics, etc…
Literature Circles (Novel Studies/Book Clubs)
Participation in literature circles comes once the focus of reading instruction is comprehension rather than learning to read. In many classrooms, a teacher will group 3-6 independent readers together to read the same book. The group of children will have similar reading levels. Each child reads the book independently, then the children meet to discuss the book. The teacher provides a protocol and/or questions for the group to discuss. A teacher may sit in and listen as the group discusses the book and may help facilitate the discussion.
Listening to Your Child Read
When your child is reading there are many ways to support his reading. Children who are learning to read benefit from prompts and questions that will help them develop effective reading behaviors. I created the following reading observation sheets What to Say to Support Early Readers to use when supporting your child as he reads. The prompts and questions are taken from: Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by Fountas, Irene C. & Pinnel, Gay Su.
What to say to support early readers as they read:
- Read it with your finger.
- Did you have enough (or too many) words?
- Read that again and start the word.
To help readers use what they know:
- What did you notice? (after a hesistation)
- Where is the tricky word?
- Try again and think what would make sense.
- Try again and think what would sound right.
To help readers use all sources of information:
- Check it. (Check the picture.)
- Does it make sense?
- Does it sound right?
- Does it look right?
- Do you know a word that starts with those letters?
- Do you know a word that ends with those letters?
To support fluency:
- Can you read the sentence quickly?
- Put your words together so it sounds like talking.
Notes to take as the child reads:
- What does the child do when they get stuck?
- Does the child notice errors?
- What information does the child use when reading?
- Does the child re-read to self-correct?
- Was the book too easy?
- Was the book too hard?
- Is the child reading fluently?
- Is the child reading with understanding?
- Next books to try:
I hope this post was helpful. I will write my next blog post about ways to discuss books with children. I will include another printable sheet to use when discussing books.