Getting the Most Out of Reading


Reading is a key that unlocks learning, brings mysteries to life, showcases wondrous ideas and opens the imagination. Reading is not just something that you do to learn; it can uplift you, inform you and cause you to challenge yourself. Don’t lose hope if your child can not read, listening to books on tape or books read aloud offers the same advantage as reading a book with your own eyes.

Pre-readers are on the edge of reading. They are learning phonemes and phonics and how sounds and letters are going together. In this stage you can play games with words and sounds. They can start learning sight words such as ‘the’ ‘and’ ‘so’ and so on. Reading at this stage is fun, chubby books with bright colors that hold their attention so they start to realize that the print on the page is a story waiting to be read. For this stage of reading books where there is a sequence or rhyming is a good idea (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, One Fish, Two Fish.) After reading ask your child to tell you what the story was about so they can work on narrating and retelling a story.

When you have an emerging reader, find books that let you co-read with them. Books where the parent reads one side and the child reads the other (you can also just choose odd/even pages and go back and forth reading with your child.) If you have a reluctant reader, find books on topics they enjoy and leave them lying around. Curiosity will often prove overpowering and they will end up reading. Make a simple book log where the child can write down their books read and a short sentence or two about the book. Good books for this age are fun to read or are interesting to read (Amelia Bedelia, Berenstain Bears, Magic Tree House.)

For confident readers start with a series and let them run through them. Geronimo Stilton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, 39 Clues, Harry Potter, just to name a few. Let them tackle a reading list from Scholastic and make their way through it. Start your own list with titles from A-Z, or maybe a weekly biography or historical fiction book. Once they can read with confidence and comprehension kids can tackle any book you throw at them. Attend a book club at the library or start your own book club where you can discuss books that you are reading. Have them write a book report or retell the main events from the story in their own words to check on their understanding. Have them pull some vocabulary words from the book and define them or use them in a sentence (or make a short paragraph story with the words.) Start a discussion about their favorite (or least favorite) part of the book they just read and whether they would recommend it.

If you have a struggling reader, focus more on reading aloud to them. Get them to sit next to you as you read, use a reading highlighter to make the text you are reading colored so they can see what and where you are reading. Help them to read slowly and check their reading with a few questions to see if they grasp what they have read or have them narrate the story back to you. Let them read books that are below their reading level to get them confident about their ability. Don’t forgo higher level books though, those can be read out loud or listened to as the child reads along in the book. Don’t overlook websites and books that focus on sight words and phonic awareness. Sometimes going over these skills again can help connect the dots for a child that is having reading problems. You can use the Lexile measure to find out what level your child is at and what books would be good to read. Check out the links below for help with struggling readers.

Reading is the glue that holds other courses and learning together. You can read about historical events or read biographies of famous people. You can read books on math to better understand numbers and theories. You can immerse yourself in a culture, a time period, or a masterpiece of an author’s imagination when you read books. Reading helps build your vocabulary, comprehension, and use of grammar. It gives you the ability to become a better writer, thinker and listener. Reading will take you places and let you soar.

Reading list 2012 (click on age for list)

Help for struggling readers

Phonics and beginning reading

Audio books sites


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