Helping Emerging Readers Become Independent

A new skill requires plenty of patience and effort, especially when the skill translates letters into words and sentences. A child may initially be reluctant to read aloud, sheepishly expressing, “Do I have to?” Showing off new words just learned is a daunting experience with an unfamiliar book, where the storyline and characters are unknown. If practice makes perfect, young children need to read, reread, and read yet again to gain confidence and apply tens of skills which are needed to say sentences aloud and comply when symbols indicate a pause or a brief stop.

Short and Sweet

Parents are usually surprised when a child discovers a favorite book. How many times have you said, “Are you sure you want us to read that one?”
Stories catch our attention for different reasons. If it’s the child’s choice, then, immediately agree it can be read. Other favorite books may come from reading nursery rhymes, jokes, or poems. In time, these high-interest books will have you, dear parents, listening, rather than reading aloud.

The I Can Read Book Series

It happens in a blink. New words that were once mispronounced will be read without difficulty, leaving parents both surprised and pleased! With the assigned task of reading the same book repeatedly across four days in some classes, parents will wonder how they can supplement their child’s reading material at the correct level. Librarians can assist parents and provide an extensive selection of I Can Read at gradually higher levels. For independent reading, peruse a picture book, first. The text often includes many intricate sentences and difficult words for a beginning reader.

Tip: For books promising to be quick favorites, chose a “Parent’s Choice Award,” a “Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book” or a “Caldecott Medal” or “Award” books.

Tip: Older book series, such as Danny the Dinosaur, or authors like Mercer Mayer and Dr. Seuss may be fondly remembered, and will most likely be just as popular with your child.

The Chapter Book

Children feel as if they are moving forward when chapters divide a book into sections. For every book you read aloud this year, most likely your child will be reading it to you the following year. Remember, long chapters allow children to listen and learn from the illustrations. Allow children to discuss the pictures or to find sight vocabulary within the text.   In addition, comprehension can be measured from questions such as:

  • Where does the story take place? How do you know?
  • What are the names of the characters? What can you tell me about him or her, or it, or them?
  • Show me the title page, page numbers, a capital letter, and endnotes.
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • Make a prediction on how the story will end.

Classroom teachers will also provide parents with a key set of questions, which will enforce vocabulary and grade-level skills.

Keep Reading Through Breaks and Vacations

Studies have proven that children who continuously read advance in level and skill. Despite the busyness of holiday breaks and summer vacations, relaxation periods are the best time to encourage children to read for pleasure. Audiobooks are a great means of instruction, as long as the content is age-appropriate. Choose books up to two years above their level. Any higher, and children may be quickly lost by complex sentence structure and a confusing storyline.

A Child Illustrator and Author

Reading does not end with just books. Soon, a child will want to write an original story. Whether she presents it as a recording or through a program translating talk to text, the story can flourish through individual, detailed, hand-drawn illustrations, and when bound in a book. Creative writing is one form of expression that boosts a child’s confidence. The lines will soon be blurred between reader and writer. In time, a child will stop asking, “Do I have to read a story?” and instead, she will open to the first page and begin reading!


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