Magical Moments: Reading Together

Reading with your Beginning Reader

rk8_boy11In my last blog I challenged you to read with your child for 20 minutes each night.  This practice makes a BIG difference in the reader your child becomes.  Yet, parents of young children who are in the process of learning to read may have questions about how to approach this.

Actually, it is pretty easy.  Here are some tips that will help you relax and enjoy the experience with your children as they learn to read.

  • It is okay for your child to track with their finger.  In other words, don’t discourage them for putting their finger on each word as they read it.  As they become more proficient, you can give them a bookmark to slide under an entire line of text at a time.
  • In the beginning, model for your child. You read a sentence and have them repeat it.
  • Next, you can begin to take turns reading.  At the beginning, you and your child can alternate sentences. You read the first one and s/he reads the next.  As your child becomes a better reader, alternate paragraphs and then finally, alternate pages.
  • The discussion you have with your child as you read is very important, so talk about the story.  Ask your child to:
    • Predict what will happen next. You can ask,
      • “What do you think will happen now?”
      • “What makes you think so?”
    • Retell what just happened. You can say,
      • “Tell me what happened first, next, and last in the story.”
      • “What was the most interesting part?” “Why?”
    • Make a personal connection to something in his/her own life. Discuss how the characters are feeling. You can say,
      • “How do you think the character is feeling?”
      • “Have you every felt that way?”
      • “Does this story remind you of another story we have read? Why?”
    • Identify new words. You can say,
      • “Point to a word that is new to you.”
      • “Let’s look at the story to see if we can figure out what it means.”
      • “What do you think it means?”
      • “Let’s keep reading to see if you are right.”
  • Each time your child gives an answer, ask him/her to give evidence from the story to support the answer.
  • Ask questions that require your child to think deeper, to think beyond the surface.
      • Who? What? Where? When? are considered lower level questions; the answers will be right in the book.
      • Why? and How? are deeper, higher level questions that require your child to use the information in the story to come up with the answer.
  • When your child finds a favorite book, they want to read it again and again.  That’s rk8_girl5great!  Re-reading is a great strategy for building stronger readers.
  • Have lots of reading materials in your home.  Talk to your child’s teacher about his or her reading level. Find out what interests your child and help him or her find books on that topic.
  • Check books out from the school library, the public library, give books as gifts and rewards, subscribe to magazines for kids, comics.
  • MODEL! MODEL! MODEL!  If your child sees you reading, they are much more likely to become a reader.

Learning to read is a magical time in a child’s life. Reading opens up a world of possibilities and adventures.  Sharing this is a wonderful experience for a parent.  Don’t miss it…it only happens once.

Author: Jennifer C. Walts, Ed.D.

I am a retired educator and School Improvement Specialist.

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