Welcome to Day 2 of the Share a Story – Shape a Future Blog Tour for Literacy.
Today’s topic is Selecting Reading Material, and since the subtitle of this blog is “Books for Children Learning to Read” I was asked to write about How to Help Emerging Readers. (I’m a former K-1 teacher.)
Learning to read is a process
Learning to read is a process that takes years. It begins at birth, when parents first speak to their child. By age nine, most children are fluent readers.
Children learn to read in small steps, and they need adults to help them. It takes “600 hours of essential pre-literacy preparation before entering school” to help children learn to read by age nine. Children have very short attention spans, so this time is spread out over a period of years. (Reading to your child twenty minutes every day adds up!)
Don’t limit your reading to books. Our world is filled with words – and this is what many young children learn to read first. They read their names, and the words they see on packages and signs. (This is called enviromental print.)
Learning to read requires direct instruction
Children don’t learn to read just because they listen to someone else reading. Learning to read also requires what teachers call direct instruction. That includes talking about the names of the letters and the sounds they make (also known as phonics.)
Once a child understands that letters have sounds and those sounds can make words, the child begins to read short words. This is why books for beginning readers have titles like Go, Dog. Go! and Hop on Pop . Short simple words are the best place to start.
Learn to read with easy reader books
Books for children learning to read are called easy readers. While picture books are read to a child by an adult, easy readers are meant to be read by the child himself. (You’ll know you’ve found an easy reader when you see the words “read,” “reader,” or “reading” on the cover.)
Learning to read takes place on a continuum, and the books reflect that. Easy readers range from 8 page books with a single word or a simple phrase on each page to 64 page books divided into chapters.
The books are called easy readers, so use them for easy reading. Don’t ask your child to read something that is too hard for him, or ask him sound out the words on every page. When your child is reading aloud, have him read books he can read by himself. (And if sounding out a word doesn’t work, say the word for your child so he can keep reading.)
Your Child’s Four Reading Levels
As children learn to read, they have four very different reading levels.
1. Independent – A child can read on his own.
2. Instructional – A child can read with help.
3. Frustration – A child misses 5% of the words. (When you’re learning to read, knowing 95% of the words doesn’t give you an A. That missing 5% means frustration! Use the five finger test to avoid this level.)
4. Listening – A child understands what you read. (Children who cannot read yet understand the spoken word. This is why picture books have sophisticated language and easy readers do not.)
Read and Repeat
How can you help your emerging reader? Make your twenty minutes a day, a “you read to me and I’ll read to you” time. Ask your child to read to you. Have him read a book he can read by himself. (This is the independent reading level.) Your child may read the same book over and over, but that’s all part of the process. Only with repetition will the words in the book become part of your child’s long-term memory.
Then it’s your turn. Read a harder book to your child. (This is your child’s listening level.) Together you are creating a family tradition of reading. You are also making a down payment on your child’s future, twenty minutes at a time.
This week’s 5 Great Books!
This week’s 5 Great Books are all easy reader classics! (You may have read these books when you were learning to read.)
Days with Frog and Toad
by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad spend the day together. (Easy reader with chapters)
Fox at School
by Edward Marshall (Author) and James Marshall (Illustrator)
The school day doesn’t quite the way Fox has planned. (Easy reader with chapters)
Go, Dog. Go!
by P.D. Eastman
Dogs in cars are on the move! (Easy reader)
Hop on Pop
by Dr. Seuss
Simple rhyming words are Dr. Seuss’ magic! (Easy reader)
Nate the Great
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Author) and Marc Simont (Illustrator)
Can boy detective Nate the Great solve the case? (Easy reader)
Selecting Reading Material for Other Ages
Visit today’s other Share a Story – Shape a Future stops for
- The ABCs of Reading: Infants, Toddlers & Preschoolers with Valerie Baartz
- Helping Middle Grade Readers with Sarah Mulhern
- Booklists and Read Alikes with Sarah Mulhern
- Using Non-fiction with Mary Lee Hahn
Enjoy the week-long Share a Story – Shape a Future tour! I’ll see you here next Wednesday.
Learn how to write a children’s book.
Copyright © 2009 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.