My mother was a librarian, so in our family reading was an important life skill like learning to drive, swimming, and balancing your checkbook. But reading was much more than just a basic proficiency; reading was an important means of reaching other worlds and expanding the horizon of each day.
Unlike my brothers who were fast and quick readers, learning to read didn’t come easy to me. I enjoyed being read to, but had great difficulty steering my eyes to focus on the printed page. Looking at a page of print was really unpleasant and staying focused was difficult for me. But my mom never gave up. When she observed that I liked mysteries, she found a way to keep the bait coming, and youth-friendly mysteries would appear like bread crumbs drawing me deeper into a daily reading habit.
Parents can do a lot to create a love of reading among their children. When teachers and parents work together, there’s great potential for every child to become a proficient and even accelerated reader. Parents and teachers can access a plethora of strategies to build a “reading culture” at home and at school. These support strategies and resources can help both natural and struggling readers improve their reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, decoding skills, and learning. Below is a beginning list of links to help parents get started in creating a reading culture in their family.
Strategies to Help Young Readers
- Be a reading cheerleader. This is especially important for children who are struggling readers. Celebrate every new accomplishment! This helps build self-esteem in young readers.
- Help your child learn to be “deaf” to negative thoughts to help struggling readers gain confidence in their reading abilities.
- Create an inclusive environment where diverse ideas, cultures, and experiences are part of your family reading repertoire.
- Use a variety of reading enhancements like echo, repeated, and choral reading methods.
- Include whimsical learning interventions like Dr. Seuss books, which give children improved neurological pathways because of the embedded alliterations.
- Use a personalized learning approach by incorporating reading topics, genres, and reading levels that best fit your child’s individual learning progression.
- Research shows that children’s books contain 50 percent more rare words that typical adult conversations, so use audio books that allow easy access to look up definitions of these unfamiliar words.
- Plot your child’s progress of books read and time spent reading.
Families Leading Change Mini-grants Designed to Build a Culture of Reading
Kindness Matters – The Johnson Elementary School (Harrison County) PTA Kindness Matters project provides grades K-5 with project materials for “Be Kind” classroom projects. Students in grades 2-4 will also read a book by R. J. Palacio to help them…Find out more at: Kindness Matters.
Powering Up on Literacy – The Lakeside Elementary (Putnam County) PTA is leading the Powering Up on Literacy project, which will provide 18 new iPads to students that will be used everyday in preschool through second grade reading centers where children will read stories or use an iPad app to read aloud…Find out more at: Powering Up on Literacy.
Minds in Motion – The Tucker Valley Elementary Middle School is partnering with the Tucker County Family Resource Network to implement the Minds in Motion project, which provides…daily access to the Minds in Motion maze…Project leaders will monitor classroom behavior, student reading, math scores, and discipline referrals…Find out more at: Minds in Motion.
Resources for Young Readers
Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)– sponsors National Summer Learning Day (July 12, 2018), provides a 2018 Summer Reading List, shares guides for how to strengthen communities through libraries, and offers a 2018 Dia Book List. Cost: Free
Natural Reader– Allows users to add features or keep it simple with a text-to-speech tool. Cost: Free
Keep Them Reading…Resources for Youth and Young Adults
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)– brings together key stakeholders from libraries, education, research, out of school time, and youth development services to provide resources to libraries to support teen learning, enrichment, and community building. Teen Reading Guide: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/professionaltools/Handouts/ParentFlyer.pdf
The Great American Read– A public broadcasting series that spotlights best books, celebrates the joys of reading. [Age 11+] Cost: Free
How to Raise a Reader– Ten tips for getting your kids hooked on books—ebooks or the paper kind.
Learning Ally– an educational reading app designed for students who learn through listening. Learning Ally Audio pairs with a subscription-based program for kids with visual impairments or dyslexia, and users must quality before subscribing. Learning ally provides access to 75,000 audio books. Parents should supervise what books children choose to read. Teachers in TX and FL have free access to this app. Cost: $119 per year. Discounts and scholarships available
Access: Mac App Store or Google Play