Reading should be pleasureable and fun. This is a guide to help adults support a child's independent reading and to make it enjoyable.
Choose books that match the child's interest and appeal to the child's sense of humor, excitement and enjoyment.
Let your child select books
Accept books that are easier, to improve fluency.
Limit choices if the last book was frustrating. Look fo:
- short words
- white space around words
- repitition or rhyming
- drama or action
- familiar or interesting topics
Re-read favorite books
- Visit the library together: choose a special place to keep library books, such as a basket or shelf.
- Buy books at used book stores, garage sales, flea markets, or new book stores.
- Swap books with friends or relatives.
- Make your own books!
- Keep a variety of books: different reading levels, genres, and styles.
Find "just right books"
- Appealing in concept and/or pictures
- Engaging story right up to the end.
- Not too difficult.
Be sure to hold the book so your child can see it well. Ideally, your place for reading should be:
Set aside about 15 to 30 minutes. Keep it a loving time together.
Talk about the book before you start, using the title and cover illustration - to provide context and reading clues.
Describe your observation of the "Who, What, and Where" of the story. Guess what the story is about together.
- "It looks like a story about a dog."
- "I see two kids on bikes."
Relate it to child's experience in life or in books.
- "Hey, this kid has a baby sister just like you!"
- "Didn't we read a story about this silly alligator?"
Ask an open-ended question, such as:
- "I wonder what will happen?"
- "What do you think this person is doing?"
- "What if you had wings like this butterfly?"
Listening and helping when asked
Invite your child to read the book aloud to you. Here are the key practices:
- Listen attentively.
- Practice being non-judgemental.
- Appreciate skills and/or progress.
Wait to help until asked
Let your child say when help is needed.
When asked for help, first ask: "Do you want to try it?" and wait, counting silently to 5: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Next, suggest these steps to your child, waiting between each one for your child to absorb the idea:
- "Skip this word and finish reading the sentence."
- "Look at the picture for clues about the word."
- "Use the first letter sound to guess the word."
- Talk about the story, reminding your child about voacbulary or context, to give the word meaning.
- Supply the correct word for your child.
- Take turns reading.
- Read the entire book to your child.
- Let your child try.
- Encourage your child to try to figure it out.
- Reinforce even the smallest attempt with encouragement.
- Do not get discouraged yourself. Model a positive attitude.
- Do not interrupt to correct a little mistake.
- If your child stops reading, use ideas above for "Wait to help until asked."
- If a child makes more than 5 errors in 50 words or fewer, the book is too difficult. Limit choices to easier books next time you read together.
Remember to praise specific actions, reinforce all attempts, and encourage in your own way. Examples:
- "I heard how you were sounding out each letter."
- "You looked at the picture to get a clue."
- "That was a good guess."
- "You noticed it didn't make sense, and you fixed it!"
- "The word you said is very close in sound (or meaning) to the word written here."
- "You know some hard words!"
Take time during or after reading to reflect on the book, or plan to read more (or less!) by the same author or on the same topic.
Not yet ready to read alone?
Try not to feel impatient if your child doesn't feel ready to try reading on his or her own. You will know by your child's behavior that it's not time yet. Instead:
- Read the book aloud to your child
- Take turns in shared reading
- Read the story straight through
Before, during, or after reading, ask your child:
- to look for something in words or pictures
- to visualize the images in the story
- to guess what will happen
- to give comments or opinions
Reading with feeling and voicing your reactions to the story help convey deeper meaning.
Keep reading aloud to your child!
Even adults enjoy listening to books read aloud. Your child may understand more when listening that when reading alone, at first. This special time together can lead to interesting conversations that connect reading to other activities and people in your lives.
Your relaxed attitude and interest will bridge the time between loving to hear people read and loving to read independently.
If you feel yourself getting bored with the stories your child chooses, take a trip to the Library together and find some books in a different area: picture books, fairy tales, poetry, biographies, science, cooking, jokes, comic books, plays, crafts, sports, chapter books...
The most important part is that you enjoy reading together.