1. Read Early, Read Often
The benefits of early exposure to books are numerous. “Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life….”. (readingfoundation.org)
In my observations as an elementary school teacher, I found that those children that had been exposed to literature at an early age tended to have richer vocabularies, exhibited more creativity, and had a wider world-view than those who didn’t, not to mention the obvious strength in reading, which translated to overall academic success.
2. Make it Fun
If you set the tone of approaching books and reading in a positive, fun manner, your child is likely do the same.
A few tips on how to instill a love of reading:
- Approach the 20 minutes as a special time for you and your child, a time for just the two of you to cuddle up and be close.
- Let them “catch you reading”. “One of the most effective ways to help children become readers and writers is to show them through your own example that you value literacy and that reading and writing have useful purposes.” ( pbs.org)
- Spice up your home library with frequent trips to your local public library.
- Start your own book club with a group of your child’s friends.
- Start your own (or visit a local) Little Free Library!
3. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
While reading the same story over and over to your little one may start to get a bit old for you, it’s actually very beneficial to her. “…repetition is a valuable teaching tool for young kids. By repeating phrases or stories over and over again, kids learn about patterns and prediction, both of which are valuable skills when learning to read.” (trctraininghub.blogspot.com) Repetition can also come within the story structure (See below).
4. What Makes a Good Early or Beginner Reader Book?
The books you read to your young child can (and should have) rich language and developed stories and characters. If your child has the interest, short chapter books can even be appropriate. However, these are NOT the books to use as beginner readers. I’ve seen more than a few books out there that are marketed as early readers but would cause considerable frustration to a child who is just beginning to read on her own. It will pay to do a little homework before purchasing.
I recommend looking for the following:
- Strong correlations between the illustrations and text. Are the pictures a reflection of what is written?
- Short sentences with sight words and easily decoded (sounded out) words.
- Words/and or sentences are repeated throughout the story.
- Predictability (Your child can tell what is going to happen next in the story.)
- Check out this handy list of books for beginning readers!
5. Memorization is Early Reading!
Don’t be discouraged that your child appears to have “just memorized” a sentence or even a book. Memorization is an important part of learning to read (along with decoding, predicting, making connection, comprehension, etc.) and is a great start. It’s also a reflection of how much you read to her and value literacy in your home, so good for you, too!
Comments? Suggestions? Please share!
In addition to being the Author of A Moon of My Own, Jennifer Rustgi is a former elementary school teacher, with a specialization (and strong interest) in reading instruction.