10 Steps to Making Children Life-Long Readers

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Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
          – Margaret Fuller

What I Know: I am not a language expert, a teacher or professional speech therapist. But as an author and storyteller, I do know that speech is the foundation of all social life. Why then, do we take it for granted? Research proves that when pre-schoolers have difficulty with oral development, they could be experiencing an early symptom of reading disability. This is an important thing to know.

What this means: A child’s ability to read is an important predictor of later literacy development and potential for academic achievement. At no other time do they learn as much as in the first few years of life, so what can we do to help our children during these critical early years? I believe we should be reading out loud with our children everyday, to develop a love of language – together.

Getting hooked: Reading is a significant family activity that, unfortunately, seems to be losing its place of value in many homes. With the ubiquitous allure of the electronic world at our fingertips, it’s easy to fall prey to the ease, comfort and excitement of it all.  But are children losing the art of language because of it? And if so, how do we get them hooked on reading, instead of watching?

Let the reading begin: Most parents already know that any shared storybook reading between child and adult is an excellent way to promote emergent literacy. So how do we compete with the more seductive forms of family entertainment and increase a child’s motivation toward book-reading? A good start is to be pro-active and encourage the child to take an active role in the experience.

So What Can You Do? 

1. Start early: Reading stories can begin as soon as the child is born, as they can quickly become familiar with sounds and pictures from a very early age.

2. Let them choose: When the child is old enough, allow them to choose the book and the reading location.

3. Read often: Every child loves repetition, as it provides a sense of familiarity and anticipation.

4. Cuddle up: This is an excellent way to bond with children and create a shared experience that will stay with them for many years.

5. Ham it up: Enhance the story experience by using various character voices and special story-reading hats, capes or props etc., for the occasion.

6. Let them hold the book: Allowing toddlers to hold the book and turn the pages will give them a stronger sense of involvement.

7. Talk about the details: Pause several times during the reading to talk about details in the story or ask the child to find things in the pictures.

8. Encourage them to picture-read: Long before they can read, and as children become familiar with a picture book – let them turn the pages and ‘tell’ you the story.

9. Go slowly: Read in a slow easy manner, especially if you are reading rhyming verse. Children can get hooked on listening to the patterns and the beat.

10. Establish a routine: Make reading a part of a child’s every day routine, as something they look forward to – and a big step toward creating a life-long reader.

With all the blogs circulating in cyberspace, you chose mine to read and I thank you for that. Stay tuned next time for:
Why is Rhyme So Important for Children’s Literacy?

See you between the lines,

Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

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