Reading Help at Home
Concerned about how your child reads?
Parents worry more about reading progress than any other academic subject. Research over the last 25 years continues to show that children who read often not only do better in school, but stay in school longer.
A good place to start is by creating a home environment where reading is not only enjoyed, but is part of everyday life. Here are some simple ways to make it easier for your child to read:
Are you reading?
- Fill your home with magazines, picture books, comics, newspapers, and chapter books.
- Visit the library.
- Give books as gifts.
- Build a home library for your child in his or her bedroom.
- Let your child choose reading material, and slowly introduce them to new genres. I Can Read! categories include: science, mystery, humor, poetry, fiction, adventure, and even history!
- Refer to the information on I Can Read! Levels to choose the right books for your child.
Your kids are watching. Are you reading?
Kids will follow your example if you are enthusiastic about reading, whether it’s news on the Internet, magazines, or classic literature. Some of the most powerful ways to motivate a child who isn’t reading yet is to lead by example.
Reading together is a great way to help a reluctant reader become an enthusiastic reader!
Here are some tips to make your session successful:
Getting Kids Interested in Reading
- Run your finger under the words, or point to text as you start each page. Children learn that text reads from left to right and is different than pictures.
- Point to the words as you read to show your child that sentences have spaces between words. Point out capitals and punctuation.
- Choose a word that is repeated in a story, like “woof” in Biscuit, for example. When you come to it, let your child read it.
- Try the five-finger test. In the five-finger test, ask your child to read a page from a book to himself or herself. To start they hold up five fingers and each time they have trouble with a word they put one finger down. If all five fingers are down before the end of the page, the book is probably too difficult.
- Ask questions about a story as you read.
- After reading a story, act out your favorite parts.
- Remember to laugh! Amelia Bedelia, Frog and his buddy Toad, and Danny’s big friend the dinosaur have been favorite characters for decades because they are funny!
Peggy Parish, author of three dozen books, including the adored Amelia Bedelia series, got fan mail from kids who said they didn’t like reading until they read her books.
“Today’s children are not going to read what they are not interested in. And if a positive attitude toward reading is not developed during the first three years of school, it is virtually impossible to develop it later,” Peggy Parish said.
Kids are enthusiastic about reading familiar, recognizable words in the I Can Read! collection of more than 200 titles. Parents enjoy reading aloud I Can Read! books by authors and illustrators they loved when they were children.
“Be as expressive as possible,” advises best-selling children’s author Mem Fox. She continues, “The more expressively we read, the more fantastic the experience will be. The more fantastic the experience, the more our kids will love books, and the more they’ll ‘pretend’ read. And the more they ‘pretend’ read, the quicker they’ll learn to read.”
Reading with expression doesn’t come naturally to most people, so give yourself a break and just do your best. With plenty of practice you’ll get better. Plus, kids say they love shared reading time just because it’s time spent with their parents. They don’t mind if you lack dramatic flair.
Try these tips if your child needs help reading independently:
More Tips for Helping Kids Read
- If your child is skipping words or pausing for a long time before reading, have your child touch each word and say the first sound if he or she gets stuck.
- If your child seems stuck on a word:
- Ask which word would make sense.
- Suggest looking at the picture and seeing if that helps.
- Have your child keep reading to the end of the sentence, then go back and reread.
- Cover up all but the first letter, move your finger to the right as your child reads each sound and then read the word quickly together.
- Ask your child’s teacher for strategies that work in the classroom that you can use at home.
- Children who sound robotic when they read can practice sounding like they are talking. Choose phrases to reread together, making the passages sound natural rather than stilted. If your child has great difficulty with this, try moving your finger quickly under the phrase while you read it together.
- Many reading errors may mean that the reading level is too hard. Move to the previous level and see if that makes a difference.
- Celebrate when your child reads successfully.
- Writing helps children read, and reading helps children write. Encourage your child to write with a gift of new pens and writing paper.
You can have a profound effect on your child’s reading habits by encouraging daily literacy activities such as these:
You are surrounded by opportunities to help your child read! An easy way to learn more about helping your child read is to become an I Can Read! Member and sign up for the I Can Read! Newsletter, with information targeted to the reading level of you child.
See a bibliography for this article.
Amelia Bedelia art © Lynn Sweat
- Listen to an I Can Read! book-and-tape or book-and-CD in the car
- Write an e-mail to relatives
- Check out books from the library to learn more about topics that interest your family
- Build things or follow recipes that require reading directions
- Read signs and street names aloud
- Rereading stories helps build fluency