Recently I posted a video on Facebook of my son reading his first book which resulted in a couple messages asking how he learned to read. Unfortunately the video is too big to upload into this post, but you can view it on my Facebook page here. I should probably add that my son just turned three last month. The main reason he is reading this early is because he looks up to his sister who is an avid reader. By the end of junior kindergarten this year, my daughter had already become a Level D reader. Below is a chart from scholastic.com that shows the three common systems for accessing reading in elementary school children.
My children have always been interested in books, probably because I started reading to them when they were just a few months old. They have picked up a lot more than I thought was possible from just hearing me read. Here are ten things you can do to help your child learn to read.
Before you can expect your child to read on his or her own, you will need to teach your child a few basics such as their alphabets, letter sounds, and how to sound out words using the letter sounds. One toy that helped both my children learn their letter sounds was Leapfrog’s Letter Factory Phonics, pictured below. This toy is designed to teach children letter sounds through its interactive tiles and song. I bought this for my daughter when she was just a year old, from Wal-Mart for about twenty-something dollars. Both my children got good use out of this toy and they learned their letter sounds quite easily because it was so much fun!
Once my daughter knew her letter sounds I started my search for books that will help teach and encourage her to read independently. I looked for books with reading levels and discovered Bob Books. I love these books because it gives early readers the much needed confidence that is necessary to become successful readers. There are book sets for children that haven’t learned their ABC’s and there are books for children learning their letter sounds to books that teach rhyming words and sight words (also known as Dolch words). As your child works his or her way through each foundation set of books, he or she will build the confidence and necessary reading skills and ability to become a fluent reader.
Bob Books are great for beginning readers but to help my daughter develop her reading ability I started looking for more challenging books. Recently I bought several I Can Read! book sets from Indigo. I Can Read! books are organized into colour-coded levels. Each book is also labelled according to the Guided Reading Level which makes choosing books for your child based on their reading ability very easy. The book sets I bought for my daughter are from I Can Read’s My Very First: Introduction to Reading series and feature simple and short repetitive sentences and beautiful illustrations. The Tug the Pup and Friends series is written by a reading specialist and each of the three box sets contains 11 coloured books and a parents’ guide with tips for teaching as well as reward stickers to encourage your child.
Unlike Bob Books that are written just for beginning readers, I Can Read! books are available for even the advanced readers in your family. Both Bob Books and I Can Read! books have helped and continue to help my children develop their reading skills. My daughter has started to read independently and my son is currently learning to sound out small words and recognize sight words. It took a lot of time and a lot of work on my part and theirs to get where they are now.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Not all children are ready to learn to read at the same age and every child learns at a different pace.
- Be patient and praise your child often.
- The more confident your child is, the more he or she will want to learn.
- Practice letter sounds and sounding out words together, instead of just telling your child the word.
- Read together daily.
- Make reading fun by using silly voices as you read and playing games such as I spy a word that begins with…
- Talk about the title of the story, the pictures in the book, the characters and the story itself (comprehending the story is just as important as knowing how to read it).
- Practice sight words (the more sight words your child knows, the easier it is to read fluently).
As you can tell by this post, I highly value Bob’s Books and the I Can Read! My Very First series set of books because they help emergent readers achieve early reading success in a fun yet effective way. Now that school is out for the summer, there is more time to read, learn, and enjoy all the great books that we have!
Here are two older posts that you may find helpful:
Feature Image: theeducatorsroom.com