While we want to encourage our children to read books that give them a bit of a “challenge” and encourage them to try new sounds, longer words, and deeper understanding, we also want them to continue to read books that are “easy” for them. Often these are “favorite” books, which make reading a “happy” experience. Encourage them to share these “favorites” with younger siblings, neighborhood children–or even the cat or dog or a beloved stuffy or doll. If they don’t have favorites, look for easy-read books that are on topics of interest to the child, have lots of repetition and rhyme, commonly used sight words (frequently used words) and great illustrations. Children also really enjoy stories with humour.
As your children read, encourage them to read smoothly and with lots of expression. If you can find books in which there is simple dialogue (conversation), that is especially helpful, as you can encourage the children to read those parts with expression as if they are the characters speaking. You can “take parts” as in “Readers’ Theatre” in which each one of you reads the words of a different character. Point out exclamation marks and words that express strong feeling, and question marks, and demonstrate to your children how to “sound excited” or to “ask a question” when reading. All these simple methods will help your child develop fluency as they read. It will also develop their ability to think about and understand the story on a deeper level.
As your children read each book, have them list the title (and possibly the author, illustrator, and publisher) on a chart. You may want to add a column for the number of pages (so your children can see how their reading is developing), and a column to record the number of minutes for each reading session.
Also have them list two or three new words they learn in each book.
When your children start to read simple “chapter books,” you may want to create a simple graph, with the reading days listed on the x axis, and chapter numbers on the y axis. Each day the child can draw a dot to show the day and what chapter they got to that day (or a bar instead of a dot), to keep track of progress.
Don’t limit your children to reading “stories.” Be sure to add other reading materials to your children’s reading list–especially “practical reading” L newspaper articles, grocery lists, advertisements, the information on a cereal box, pamphlets and brochures, greeting cards, recipes, emails or letters, comics, photo-essays, websites, instructions for games, and whatever else your child wants to read.
Children’s magazines, such as Chickadee, are excellent for early readers. They are not only colourful and have easily read stories and articles; they also have many practical, hands-on activities. Your child can add each article, set of instructions, etc. to the growing reading list. Just as in math, practical-application-reading makes learning the “theory” of reading more interesting to many children.
Be sure to take your children with you when you go to the library, and let them choose their own books and materials. Show them the different parts of the library; don’t limit them to just the children’s section. Look together at adult books, reference books, magazines, videos, audio books, and so on. If they are interested in a particular topic, let them help you use the library’s computer catalogue to find related materials. If you think the chosen material is above the child’s reading level, sign it out anyway, and read or watch it together. And don’t forget to sign out e-books for the children to read on e-reader, computer, tablet, or smart phone.
Also take your children to bookstores. New books make wonderful gifts; but you can also get many books very inexpensively at used book stores and thrift shops. Encourage your children to start building their “personal library” from a young age!
If you have found these tips helpful, be sure to check out other posts on this website, and don’t forget to check out all the learning “Freebies” available here on this site. Also take a look at my “Easy to Learn” booklets and my “Learning Theme” guides available free or very low-cost at my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.