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The Informed Parent

Ten Tips For Reading Success

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Nov. 05, 2001

One of the first questions parents ask during a primary grade parent conference is “How well is my child reading?” Parents know that reading skills are required for mastering all other academic subjects. Unless a child has adequate reading skills, he will become frustrated and not be a happy or successful student.

Most children can become successful readers, and most can learn to enjoy reading when given skilled instruction and positive reading experiences. While children can learn the skills of reading in school, enhancing those skills and developing the habit of reading for pleasure often takes place at home.

The following ten tips assist parents in becoming successful supporters of the reading habit.

  1. Have books available from the beginning. From the time a child moves from infancy to babyhood, books need to be a part of the home environment. Cloth books and heavy cardboard books with bright pictures and few words capture the youngest child’s attention. As your child grows, add to the home library and don’t dispose of the old books. Children love to rehear old stories. A school age child may retrieve an old picture book and say, “Remember this story? Let’s read it again.”
  2. Read to your child every day. Children of all ages enjoy being read to. Nothing captures one’s attention like a good story read well. Don’t be afraid to read with animation. Change the tenor of your voice. Use accents. Be silly. Let the sound of your voice and your enthusiasm give the message that reading is fun.
  3. Be creative. You don’t need to read every word. When reading to very young children, reading a few words and changing a word here and there doesn’t bother them. They like you to talk about the pictures and ask them to identify objects in the pictures. This begins to include them in the reading process.
  4. Take time. Reading to your child provides a time for enjoying each other. Allow time to talk about the pictures and the story. Young children like guessing what will happen next in a story. Reading without hurry lets children know that reading provides pleasure.
  5. Make reading time cozy. Turn off the TV. Turn on the answering machine. Cuddle up on the couch or sit under a tree. Reading is nurturing to the intellect and the emotions. Reading in a soothing environment adds to the enjoyment of both you and your child.
  6. Read cooperatively. School age children enjoy reading along with you. Encourage this by reading the text together. Or alternate reading sentences or paragraphs. Not only is this fun, it gives you the opportunity to see your child’s skills.
  7. Use the public library. Libraries have both fiction and nonfiction children’s books covering almost any topic interesting to young people. The children’s librarian has a wealth of information at her fingertips. She can direct children to books of interest at their reading level. She can assist them in finding answers to almost any question that they have. The summer reading programs available at most libraries encourage children to read because they are fun, prizes are given for reading, and they often include activities that involve socializing with other children.
  8. Let children select their own recreational reading material. During the school year, homework assignments often include reading for a certain number of minutes each evening. Parents sign off on a reading log that indicates the child has fulfilled his reading time. Some teachers request specific kinds of reading for the reading program. Often the teacher’s goal is simply to encourage a child to read for pleasure. If this is the case, letting children select what interests them most provides the best opportunity for developing the habit of recreational reading. Novels, magazine articles, the newspaper, even comic books help children develop the reading habit. Often children want books that are slightly below their reading level for pleasure reading. They can read the books quickly which indicates success to them. Occasionally children choose books that stretch their reading skills. While this challenge excites some, most children loose interest if a book is too difficult.
  9. When children ask questions, don’t always offer an answer. Sometimes say, “Let’s go look that up.” Use encyclopedias, dictionaries, reference books or any other books you may have in your home. If you don’t have books available, it’s a great opportunity to take a trip to the public library. Many children know how to use the Internet to look up answers to their questions. The Internet is an excellent resource; however, the skills required for using books to find information are important and encourage the reading habit.
  10. Be a role model. When children see you enjoying reading, they are more likely to become enthusiastic readers. Even if you read only a few minutes each day, you give children the message that reading is important. Of course, the catch is finding a time to read when the children will see you.

Some children will become successful readers regardless of what you do at home. Others need extra encouragement. The tips offered for reading success can assist you in providing that encouragement and in giving your young readers a greater opportunity for success.

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