Parents and caregivers can make a significant contribution to a child's progress in reading by listening to and reading with them on a regular basis. Home reading reinforces important aspects of the school reading program and promotes and interest in reading for pleasure. It also offers an opportunity to spend time with the children!
Ten Keys to Reading with Children
- Talk about the book first
- What do you think the book will be about?
- Talk about the author and the illustrator and what their roles are.
- Model reading with the child
- Point to the words as you read, but keep your reading smooth.
- Show reading beginning on the left side of the page (point!)
- Talk about challenging words and how they might figure them out
(use pictures on the page, context and other clues)
- Regardless of the child's age, have them chime in when they know the words
Say the first couple of words slowly to clue them in that it's time for a repetitive phrase, then pause and look at them to finish the phrase (then I'll huff...)
- Read the book with your child after you have read it to them
Have your child use the picture clues to figure out words.
Allow your child to read the book over and over if they wish... repetition is part of a child's learning process
Memorization is a legitimate and important progression in the reading process... Don't belittle them by saying, "you didn't really read that, you just remembered it.
- Look at the book cover. Imagine together what the book
might be about. Talk about the pictures and the story as you
Ask questions like:
- I wonder what this story will be about?
- I wonder what will happen next?
- How does that person feel?
- Could this happen in real life?
- What would you do if that happened to you?
- Read Together
The adult and the child both read the words in unison. When you come to a word that your child knows, wait and let the child read it or read it softly with them. Sometimes your voice will be loud, sometimes you will fade to a whisper as your child reads confidently.
- Echo Reading
Read one sentence, putting your finger under each word. Then the child reads that same sentence.
- Word Hunts
Choose a word that is repeated many times in the book. Print that word on a card and hunt for it together.
- Sounding Out:
Have your child sound out the words that he is ready for. Show your child how to do this. Don't struggle though... Keep the story moving or the child will become bored and frustrated. Don't get stuck on a single word!
Pay attention to the mood the author is trying to set and show proper emotions. If you look and sound bored, your child is not going to get the impression from you that reading is fun!
Point out drawings that are funny, silly, ugly, messy or beautiful. Talk about why the illustrator made the drawings that way. Talk about how it might make the feeling of the story different if the drawings were done differently (what if Spot were a big drooling bulldog with sharp teeth?)
Get scared when it's scary, giggle when it's funny, get sad when it's sad. Talk about how the story is making you feel. Ask how it's making your child feel.
We want to encourage fluency and understanding of the message (after all, the point of reading is to understand the message!). Don't worry if meaningful substitutions are made - e.g. "kitty" for "kitten". After reading, ask questions to encourage your child to verbalize about what he has been doing (ex: how did you know that word is cat? Children might respond by saying there is a picture of a cat on the page and/or that the word starts with the letter C)
Tips for an enjoyable reading experience:
- Be aware of your child's mood... Notice when they begin to tire or become bored.
- Set aside a special reading time for home reading everyday (but at the same time, be flexible enough that you can choose to skip it a day if they are bored or you can choose to read extra if they are really excited about a particular story)
- Try to avoid times when your child would rather be doing something else (in the middle of their favorite TV show, or when all the other kid on the block are outside your window riding their bikes)
- Make the reading time as pleasurable as possible so that your child develops warm feelings for books and readings (snuggle with your child, wear cozy clothes, have a nice drink like hot chocolate, sit near a sunny window, etc)
- Have the child sit close beside you or on your lap.
Ideas you can use to expand on the book reading
Some children are ready to go beyond reading the book. These ideas are recommended for those children.
- Ask questions about the content of the book. Relate the book to your child's own personal experiences. For example: "What's your favorite ride at the amusement park?" when reading Curious George Visits an Amusement Park or "How many teeth have you lost?" when reading Franklin's Lost Tooth. Try to stay away from yes/no questions.
- Play word games using the book. For example, "Can you find a word that begins with the letter P. What word do you think that is?" Reread the sentence with your child. (or try... "I Spy with my little eye a word that starts with P"... Take turns on each page being the spier).
- Expand on the book, letting your child be the author and/or illustrator
and you their faithful assistant. For example, with Brown
Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See... have the child add other animals
(start with something like their own pet and work from there). Have
them draw some pictures and dictate the words to you (or write their own
You can make this extra special by taking their work to a color photocopy shop and producing your own books (or you can use a scrapbook to accomplish the same objective). They'll have loads of fun re-reading the books that you wrote together!
- Write a sentence with your child about the book. For example: I like the Ferris Wheel. Encourage your child to write as much of the sentence as she can alone.
...or back to part 2