Are you helping your child learn to read right now?
There is a lot of priming that happens before you even begin helping your child learn to read. Such as learning phonic sounds and the letters of the alphabet, and just learning language in general (see our 6 ways to build a child’s vocabulary through play).
But once your child begins to sounds out words and reading books, how do you help your child become a rock-star reader?
I was at a loss when it came to helping my child learn to read. As you know, I’m not a educator, just a mom figuring these out (sometimes I feel sorry for my oldest because he’s like my guinea pig as I’m learning how to do all this).
I recently got my hands on an early copy of my dear friends’ new book called Raising a Rock-Star Reader, by Amy Mascott and Allison McDonald.
I took notes like crazy while reading through their book, and also earmarked many of the 75 rock-star tips for helping your child learn to read. They are rock-solid tips.
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6 tips when helping your child learn to read:
Here are my major notes for helping your child learn to read and become a rock-star reader.
Amy and Allison included a whole section (Chapter 2) on storytelling activities to build oral language. This is something I definitely lack in and didn’t realize the importance of it. Kids don’t need to be able to write to tell stories. Storytelling helps kids learn new language and vocabulary. It also helps them learn the basics of what a story is, the beginning, something that happens and the end.
I love one of the storytelling ideas a lot, doing Popcorn Stories (Tip #18). This is where you have your child tell a story in short segments and you might pop in here and there to keep it continuing on. To start, try “Once upon a time there was a…” and interject during stalls in the story with “and so…” or “suddenly…” or “and to their surprise…” to have your kid keep going with their story. I love those little tidbits of words that help continue on! So slick.
Re-tell a story in your own words.
I love tip #26 to go on a book walk. You know those books that your child knows by heart and sometimes it seems silly to even read them again? Well, this time, have them tell you the story. If your child can start to recognize some of the words on the page, they can use them to tell their own story and use the pictures to help with the rest. This would be great for an older sibling to tell the story to his younger brother or sister.
Still read aloud to your kids!
Even when your child begins to read, still keep reading to them! There’s lots of reasons for this. Tip #28 is one I picked up on awhile ago; point to the words as you read them. Whether its with your finger, or if you make it something fun (like a feather or a bubble wand). It helps kids know how print works (left to right) and that every word on the page matches a word that’s being read.
Also reading aloud helps model how to read fluently (Tip #66). By doing this, you show your child the natural rhythm of reading, pauses with punctuation and differences in voice sounds (are you excited, sad, or ask a question?).
Find appropriate books that your child will love.
Finding the right books that your child can read is hard enough, but you really need to find books that your child will love to read. Make sure its a topic that they’re interested in and fun for them! Right now, my oldest loves everything Lego, so we have about every single early reader Lego book I can ever find. He’s also a non-fiction fan, so we learn about lots of things including Rocks and Minerals, Deadly Dinosaurs, Shark Attack and even Monsters, Myth or Fact?.
I ear-marked the pages of book lists in Raising a Rock-Star Reader. A few that stuck out to me are:
- A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy (found on the list of Chapter books for early independent reading)
- The Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary (found on the list of Chapter books for early independent reading)
- Dinosaur Dinosaur by Kevin Lewis (found on the list of Books for Kindergartners)
- Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis (found on the list of Books for Kindergartners)
- Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman (found on the list of Books for Preschoolers)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (found on the list of Books for Preschoolers)
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (found on the list of Books for Preschoolers)
Know how to support your child in reading (& not tell him he’s doing it all wrong).
Something I always struggle with is getting the right words out at the right time (this goes way beyond parenting….). So, I fell in love with the phrases to use (and when) on Tip #55.
We would never like it if someone told us “You’re doing that wrong”, right? Neither would your child. So finding the right phrase is key. Saying something along the lines or “Let’s take a closer look at the letters and sound them out.” or “Does that word fit with the picture on the page?”
My biggest takeaway though was that if the ‘mistake’ your child makes doesn’t actually change the meaning of the story, keep your mouth shut and just let it go. Only step in if it does change the meaning of the story and give them a gentle nudge asking your child, “Did you read that correctly?”.
And if you have a hunch that your child has the book memorized by heart and they aren’t actually reading it, remember the tip earlier about reading aloud to your kids and pointing to the words as you say them? Have your child do that for you!
Make sure your kids understand what they’re reading (and what you’re reading) by asking them questions. Tip #71 suggest that reading is an active process. As you come across parts of the book, stop and ask questions: “I wonder why…” or “Why did that character…” or “What will they do if…”. Try to address the questions as you read and then listen for the answer as you continue on.
Continue with helping your child learn to read.
Just get this book! Seriously, it is jam-packed with 75 tips like these that I’ve shared. There’s no fru-fru (I actually privately messaged co-author Allison McDonald and told her those exact same words). Its rock-solid helpful tips to help kids learn to read, and really, really enjoy reading too!
Raising a Rock-Star Reader will be available to all on November 10, 2015.