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Reading with Children

For parents who are trying to do any of the following:

1. Engage your child in reading

2. Increase your child's reading skills (fluency, comprehension, rhythm, expression, tempo, etc.)

3. Increase your child's language acquisition, vocabulary, grammar skills, and spelling skills

This blog post is for you!!!

There are some really unique ways to help your child become a "reader." I myself wasn't a "reader" until about the age of 10. Up to that point, though I loved books and collected books and asked for books for birthdays/holidays, I was not a reading self-starter. However, I loved being read TO! At the age of 6, I took a great interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. Not only, was I fascinated with the time period (late 1800's), I also found a kindred spirit of sorts in Laura. She stood up for things in which she believed strongly, she was stubborn, and she was short! I found a heroine that was very much like me! So every night, my mom would read a chapter or two from the books. My aunt had them all in hard-back so we borrowed one at a time beginning with "Little House in the Big Woods" and continued until we were through "The First Four Years." At this point, I was older and was reading on my own as well, but it had become my little tradition with my mother to read those together...so we finished the series together.

My point, in telling you this little anecdote, is to encourage you to read with your children. You don't need to go to the lengths that my mother and I did with the "Little House" books, especially with younger children (Of course if your child shows a desire for a particular book and it's age appropriate, go for it like my mom did with me!). However, reading a book to your child on a nightly basis so that they can hear fluid reading will make a dramatic impact on their skills. According to the University of Michigan Health System's Child Development & Behavior Resources Website, "Reading with your child is a great activity. It not only teaches your child that reading is important to you, but it also offers a chance to talk about the book, and often other issues will come up. Books can really open the lines of communication between parent and child." Additionally, your child seeing you read (whether it's a newspaper, book, magazine, etc.) sets a fantastic example!

There are many different ways of reading with your child as well. You can do as my mother and I did and read to your children. This does NOT in anyway hinder their reading skills. In fact, children often, as they begin to learn more and more words, will follow the words with their eyes as they listen to the words being read to them. This assists with their comprehension, as well as with building their vocabulary, phonics skills, and word recognition. Imagine reading a book to a first or second grader who may have heard lots of vocabulary words, but has no idea what those words look like. Then as you're reading and he/she is following along, magically those words become sight words. The child's vocabulary increases exponentially. You may, as your child gets a bit older and has a better understanding of reading, read one page to them and have them read the next to you. It's a fun way of reading to each other, and it helps solidify that bond between you and your child even more.

If a child is having particular trouble with a reading skill, for example pacing, tempo, and rhythm, utilize resources that will help with that skill. When I'm tutoring a child with these issues, I use Shel Silverstein's poetry as one resource. Those of you who borrowed "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic" from the school library remember the silly, fun poetry that Shel wrote to engage children. That same poetry helps students learn to have a rhythm to their reading. Poetry is simply literature with rhythm. Reading it aloud helps build the skills I listed above.

In short, by making reading a fun, family centered activity, you may soon be describing your child as a "reader" and even perhaps one day as an "avid reader." If you're looking for resources please check out this link to PBS's website with numerous tips on engaging your child in reading, even during the summer months! http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/summer-reading-tips/ You can also feel free to send me a message for resources, ideas, etc. I'll help in whatever way I can! Happy reading!