Growing a Good Reader

rk8_bookbox1Reading Tips for Parents: You can be the key to your child’s success with literacy. As his or her first teacher, you are in a unique position to help instill a love of reading in your child. The first thing for you to do is model reading; your child should see you reading every day for information or for enjoyment.  Having a home filled with books, magazines, comics, newspapers and other print material is a good start.

Not long ago I found myself cringing in the grocery store when I heard a frustrated mom threaten her five year old by saying, “If you don’t stop that, I will take away the iPad and you will have to read.”  Nooooo!  Reading should be a pleasure, not ever a punishment!

Children with a large supply of reading materials in their homes are known to score higher on standardized tests. Why? Think about it.

There is a tremendous difference between digital input and text.  When a child watches TV or plays on a tablet, all the pictures come streaming in from the screen.  When a child reads, s/he has to visualize the text. The act of painting the picture the author is describing is a most creative process.  Reading helps students begin to visualize new possibilities, solve problems, think out of the box, and become the young adult that companies clamor to hire.

Here are some easy suggestions for helping your child develop a lifelong love of reading.

  • Read aloud to your child. Choose material (books, magazines, comics) based on topics your child finds interesting. Ask your child questions about what has just been read…the Who, What, Where, When and Why of a story.
  • Choose a sound and ask your child to cut out pictures of things that begin with that sound. Help your child glue their picture onto an index card and write the letter that makes that sound. Use these cards to review sounds. Create an alphabet of pictures on index cards. Celebrate the letters of the alphabet; make it fun!
  • Surround your children with reading material; give books as gifts, rewards, etc.
  • Encourage a wide variety of reading activities.
  • Make reading an important part of your child’s life. Have them read menus, grocery lists, roads signs, game directions, the comics, or movie time listings.
  • Be knowledgeable about your children’s progress. Schedule regular conferences with your child’s teacher each year.
  • Find out what reading skills your child is expected to have at each grade level. The school’s curriculum will give you this information.
  • Get help promptly for reading problems. Reading problems do not magically disappear with time. The earlier children receive help, the more likely they will become good readers.
  • Let your child gradually share some of the reading aloud. You read a sentence, paragraph, or page, then it’s your child’s turn. Take over if your child seems tired or discouraged. Keep reading light-hearted; focus on the fun, not just hard work.
  • Leave notes in a lunch bag or on the refrigerator for your child to discover and read. Make it simple, using words your child knows or you think they can sound out.
  • Take your new reader to the library. Pick up a library card and make a big deal about it. Let your child know how important and special books can be.

Raising a reader is a joyous journey for parents and the reward is great. Check back here on the blog for a list of wonderful read-aloud books to share with your child.  In the meantime, snuggle up tonight for a sweet bedtime story.

Author: Jennifer C. Walts, Ed.D.

I am a retired educator and School Improvement Specialist.

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