Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tips for Improving Your Child's Literacy

children's literacyThis is the first half of my list of tips, the second to be published next Thursday.

And even with the official TT site closing I still plan on posting lists on Thursdays--they're fun to post as it is.

1. Begin reading to your child as soon as possible.

2. Set aside time each day, perhaps at bedtime, for a story.

3. Start with picture books and build up to chapter books and novels. The art of listening is acquired, it may take some time.

4. Allow small children to turn pages to involve them.

5. Occasionally when reading aloud, read above their intellectual level to challenge them but if necessary, shorten long descriptive passages until the child's imagination and attention span can handle them.

6. Don't force a child to stop reading to look up or sound out an unfamiliar world. The joy of reading is in the message, not the decoding. Parents should make reading as smooth and enjoyable as possible and use other opportunities to increase vocab and phonics skills such as mentioned in this post.

7. Ask questions about the story to involve your listeners and observe their comprehension. Do this at points when it will not interrupt the flow of the story, perhaps at the turning of a page.

8. Don't get upset if you're interrupted by frequent questions, it means they're paying attention and want to know more.

9. Adjust your pace and tone to fit the story. Slow down at the suspenseful parts, give the monster a rumbling voice or huff and puff right along with the wolf. Don't read too fast.

10. Allow less-attentive listeners to keep their hands busy while you read. Let them color a pictures, play with Legos or look at another book.

11. Supplement stories with pertinent activities. More on that later . . .

12. Provide bed lamps for children and set aside nightly reading time, even if it's just looking at the pictures.

13. Keep tabs on current interests and look for books on subjects your child shows interest in, particularly non-fiction. Dinosaurs, space, whales, foreign languages, horses, cooking, crafts, sports, etc.

For further discussion on this subject I'd recommend the following:

* Daniel Henninger's article Love of Reading's A Labor Lost for Many Now in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal.

* Harold Bloom's op-ed article entitled "Dumbing Down American Readers" on 09/24/2003 if you happen to subscribe to the Boston Globe (I can't link to it as I don't have a subscription, though I have a hard copy in my files).

* MC Milker's post entitled Looking for Language: Reading to Children.

* Play Library's post on ordering personalized booklists for your child.

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49 comments:

Christie said...

great list! reading is big in our house. we've been reading to poops since before he was born, now at 10 months he sits there at bedtime with us as we read to him, and LOVES reading time. he points and turns the pages, it's awesome. love your list!

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

Nice list of things to share and thanks for it. My 2 grandsons love to listen when we read to them. It's sad that I won't be able to read your 2nd half of your list as T13 has come to an end.
Mine is up too.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I LOVE reading to my kids, even more so now that I've got TWO readers. I'm very excited that the little one's not hiding how well she reads.

Your tips are right on.

Happy final TT! I'm glad I found you through it; makes it all worthwhile.

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I maintain reading is one of the best gifts/skills you can give your kids. I talk about it often.

Interested in what you've got to follow up next week!

andi said...

Excellent tips. Now, how do I get my child to stop sleeping with her books?

Nicole said...

I love to read to my kids. I DO need to set aside time like you said though. It is something that the whole family can get involved with and that is what I love to do. Find stuff the whole family can do together.

Gattina said...

The idea is very good. I tried it with my 3yrs old son, but he pretended that neither I nor my mother were good in reading and therefore he prefered to listen to the cassette of Little red riding Hood, and other stories. Lol !

chelle said...

Reading is huge around here. Becs at 2.5 spends more time with books than any other toys or activities. I like to think that was all our parenting :D But I think more than likely it is partly due to her inquisitive nature as well. Adore the list! Very well done and thought out!

Kerri said...

Great tips, Michelle. :) Thanks for the link.

christine said...

thanks for the informative post. I'm hoping you'll post the 2nd half on your blog (seeing as this week is the final TT). I'm all about books this week too.

Robin said...

That's a great list. #8 is a biggie for me. We're reading my 6 yr old the Narnia Chronicles, and it can be slowwwwww going through some chapters! He loves them though, we're on Book 5 (The Horse and His Boy) already. Best yet, we're reading from the very same battered set of paperbacks that I treasured as a child. My 3 yr old is just starting to have the patience for me to read to her instead of her just flipping through on her own, and I'm so glad to finally be able to do it.

Happy last TT, and I like the idea of keeping up with our own lists just for fun.

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

I miss having little ones to read to. It was one of my favorite times of the day. I read "Small Pig" to my oldest so much that he could recite the whole book long before he could read.

Kimo & Sabi said...

Dont ferget Cat In Da Hat books!

Susan said...

What a beneficial post Michelle! Thanks for sharing.

Retta said...

I hope that Thursday Thirteen doesn't go away. I contacted Leanne and I'm determined to rescue the thirteen if I can!

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Great list! Because of my father reading so much to me and taking me to the library every other day, I learned to read at a very young age.

dgm said...

i would add "turn off the tv!" i think kids model behavior and if they see their role models reading in their leisure time rather than sitting in front of the tube, i think they are more likely to get the message that reading is something to do for pleasure, by choice, in lieu of other things.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

This post, I love....

Lei said...

ditto 9, 10, 12, 13! And #6... hmmm, that's a good one! The drop caps are easy, if you're curious how I did them. It's just a cut and paste code in your template. I'd be happy to share!

Twisted Cinderella said...

Wonderful list! One of the things I am proud of is how much Little Princess loves books and reading.

I am glad to have met you through TT and I am really going to miss it.

The Late Bloomer said...

Michelle, this is a wonderful list! I don't even have kids of my own (yet, and I hope that's truly a yet, because I want the blessing of children!) but I know that reading is and always will be a very valuable element in raising them, if I have that opportunity.

My mother read to both my brothers and me all through our childhoods, and I always looked forward to that moment in the evening. Even when I was 8 and my baby brother was 2, I would still come join in and sit listening as she read... Adding in the fun voices and all! Some of my greatest childhood memories, which for some reason are not all that vivid, are of reading and the books we shared.

Now, my mom really knew how to save money, so most of those books came from the library, so unfortunately I don't still have many of them today. But I did recently come across a super-old copy of The Cat in the Hat with my name in it, as well as a book from middle school, Shel Silverstein's Light in the Attic.

I worked for a short time as a children's book manager in a bookshop, and I have to admit I LOVED certain elements of that job; I miss it desperately sometimes... Mostly because I am really passionate about children's books. I think I need to do something about that...

Anyhoo, I've gone on long enough. Thank you for bringing out these memories in such a great post!

Babystepper said...

Great list! My little guy is just starting to read, so I'm having to try very hard not to push him to read it instead of letting him enjoy the stories and ideas and I read it.

strugglingwriter said...

We have been reading to our 9 month old since she was born and she loves it. She even "walks" us over to her books for us to read to her. She really enjoys turning the pages, which we of course allow her to do. I was happy to see that listed here.

Nice post!

Robinson Family said...

Great list. We love to read in Robinson County! (Norah's enjoyed being read to since she was literally 2 weeks old!)

I can't wait to read the second half of your list next week!

Ally Bean said...

Amen to #6. I love to read thanks to my parents making it fun for me. We learned words later, after we had fun with the books.

And Happy TT. Sorry to see it end, but I like your let's do it anyhow attitude.

Stu said...

Have you read Freakonomics yet? The main author is a leading economist who reveals statistical surprises, one of which was: According to a US Dept. Of Education longitudinal study, reading to your child doesn't improve their test scores, but having a lot of books around the house does. I found this stat comforting, was we didn't read to our kids much (we'd tell them stories, engage them in conversation, play games), but we have a crazy number of books laying all over our house. Oh, and our kids have an average GPA of 3.9 - but that's just our home. I wonder if other parents have found this same thing to be true.

emma said...

Awesome list. I'm always trying to find ways to prep Ella for reading. She isn't quite talking yet, but can't wait until she's really engaged.

scribbit said...

These are some helpful comments--I haven't read Freakanomics entirely, though parts. That's an interesting statistic and in many ways it makes sense.

I believe that creating a culture of learning in your home is what will help your children be successful academically (and in other ways too) and a big part of this is having books around the home--and also playing games with them, engaging them in conversation and other educational tools.

Some of the suggestions you've left are addressed on my second half of the list. I also have a list of activities designed to promote reading that I'll be posting down the road as well.

Goslyn said...

What great tips! I have always been an avid reader, and I remember being so angry at my middle school librarian, who had posted a sign stating how to know if a book was "too hard" for you to read.

Her rule? If you didn't know five of the words on the page, you shouldn't even try to read the book. And this from a librarian!

I like your list of how to become a better reader much better!

creative-type dad said...

Really good tips.

My daughter loves, loves, loves books. Especially ones with Elmo. I need to change that.

Darla said...

That's great advice, and all things we've done. IMO, just because a child can read is no reason to stop reading to them--they can generally understand stories well above their reading levels, plus it's a great way to spend time together, too.

Proverbs31 said...

Great list! I'm definitely going to have to make use of number 10 since my 3 year old just can't sit still during her bedtime story. I bet I can get her to sit and play with a couple of baby dolls or something. That should be quiet enough for a bedtime story. :)
Personally, I'm a big advocate of reading so hat's off to you!

http://bringinggoodhome.wordpress.com

An Ordinary Mom said...

I could go on for hours about this! Thanks so much for your helpful tips. It is especially important to be patient with all of their questions - it shows that they are learning and are interested in the book.

We love to read in our house and we go to the library all the time and I am always looking for a good bargain on books! In fact, just today I stocked up on reward books that were on clearance at our grocery store. (We give them to the kids after they earn them by filling up their listening chart.)

I look forward to part II of your post next week.

L^2 said...

Lots of great ideas on this list. Thanks for sharing, and happy last TT. (I think blogger ate my first comment, but sorry if you get two)

JAM said...

We read a squillion books to our girls. They both love to read now, and on the rare family outings, Barnes & Noble is the #1 destination.

Number Two Daughter is a high school senior, and she occasionally comes home and mentions one or another of her classmates who read terribly. She just doesn't understand that in some homes, gentle encouragement is non-existent.

I miss climbing into each of the girls beds when they were little and reading/listening to their book of choice.

Stephanie said...

Well said! (as always!) I was going to add some tips too, but I'll wait to see what you have to say next week! ;) Always have to put my two cents in you know!

Laughing Muse said...

Good points!! I was raised to be a bibliophile.

One of the all-out coolest experiences I had: a 9- or 10-year old boy was in a bookstore with his mom and younger sib. He looked at one book that was borderline kids/young adult, looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, "Mom? Can I get this one? I don't understand some of these words..."

I felt like saying to the woman, "Whatever anyone else may say EVER, you're raising him well", but though that would be a bit presumptuous.

Amy said...

I agree that modeling reading for your child and cultivating a desire to read and an awareness of how important reading is, are important. I'm especially glad you de-emphasized phonics.
I work full time with adults helping them with reading improvement. It's important to understand that if a child does not read well, it's not a reflection of their intelligence, but rather that when they learned how to read, their brain recorded an incorrect process. The best thing is to model excellent reading for your child, and hold them to a similar standard. So if you teach your child the importance of reading from an early age they are much more likely to have the desire to read and learn to read before they go to school and get bogged down with decoding.

PunditMom said...

Such wonderful tips. My daughter, R., who is in first grade, is doing great in the reading department. Without being "worried," I wondered at what point she would really start tor ead. We knew a few words, but there was not coherent reading.

And then the synapses started to fire and it was exponential! I don't know what exactly happened between the first day of first- grade and now, but it's amazing.

Plus, there's the fact that her mom is a book-a-holic! Do they have a 12 step program for that? :)

Haley-O said...

I'm also going to keep up the Thursday Thirteen list. It's a great way to break up the daily prose, you know? A great break for the blogger and the reader! :) This is a great list, as usual, Mich. I love the picture, too....Reminds me of those old 19th century illustrations....Maybe is one.
I always read to the monkey. They call her "the academic" in her programs, because she loves sitting in her own little corner flipping through books. :)

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

These tips are so important. i read to the girls from the Little House series every night before bedtime. I'm enjoying them at least as much as they are!

MC Milker said...

@Thanks for the link. This is a great list on an important subject!

Mercy's Maid said...

Great list! I don't have kids yet, but I do hope that when I have them they will be readers. I've loved to read from an early age.

My aunt used to read books to me a chapter at a time and record herself reading them so I could go back later and listen to them. That's one of my precious memories and it seems to have paid off...I'm a voracious reader these days.

Thank God for adults who take the time to read with kids. I really think it makes a difference in literacy.

Julie Q. said...

A book I highly recommend along these lines is How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell. It has a million recommendations.

allrileyedup said...

Here's a fun reading website for kids:

starfall.com

(I didn't read your comments, so sorry if someone already mentioned it)

Sara said...

Great idea. We do some of these, but not all. I will deffo be adding some of yours!

Anonymous said...

A program that you might want to look at for promoting early reading in children is called Your Baby Can Read! it was developed by a PhD. in child development and teaches the written word at the same time that speech is developing. It's very interesting www.YourBabyCan.com

Thanks for the information.

Lisa said...

Great suggestions. I don't think enough parents spend time reading with their children and inspiring a love of the written word.

Here via the carnival of family life.

kailani said...

I started reading to my girls before they were even born. My husband thought I was crazy but now they love books!

Here from the Carnival of Family Life.