19 Jun

This letter was originally published at Michigan Mom Living.

Dear Moms,

I was born in Muskegon, MI so I am a Michigander at heart. As a mom of four, and a nana of five, I’m still teaching after nearly 45 years as reading teacher,principal, etc.I was blessed to instruct homeschool kids of all ages and their families. I believe in educating children at home. Childhood is a precious time!

Parents are a child’s first and best teachers. Today I’m sharing simple things you can do to help your children become capable, confident readers who love to read!

Seven Time-Tested Reading Success Recipes for Summer or Year Round

1. Turn your home into a print and language rich environment. Create book nooks, crannies, even forts made of boxes or blankets. Read in a little tent. Offer an invitation to stop and read. Books introduce us to other people, places and cultures. Our imaginations run wild with excitement as we meet characters like us or so different we can’t wait to see what they will do next. This is the beauty of fiction. I also encourage reading non-fiction at home. There is so much to learn from textbooks and current events.

2. Create smart little readers by reading! Start reading to your baby right away, even in your tummy. When your kiddo is a toddler, lap reading is not only heartwarming but an effective reading strategy.Your wee one is watching your eyes follow lines of print, notices you reading from left to right, hears your expression, and is immersed in the joy of reading. For pre or emerging readers, read books featuring rhyme, rhythm, and predictable patterns. As you read, point out that sounds make letters and letters make words. Sing along and use puppets or rhythm instruments. Unleash your creativity!

3. Continue reading with your children long past toddler stage. When kids start reading on their own, it’s still important to read together. During shared reading time, teach word recognition (phonics) vocabulary and comprehension mini-lessons, about 20 minutes each.

4. Check the book’s reading level. Books are at an independent reading level. The easiest way is ask your child to put a finger down on the page each time there’s an unknown word. After five fingers are down, switch to an easier book. Children reading at a frustration level don’t understand what they read or won’t read.

5. Start family classic reading time. For fiction reading, let kids self-select favorite books. I have no problem with Captain Underpants. However, I am a true believer in classic literature. Later I’m sharing my favorite early reader books and junior novels.

Sharing great literature will be remembered as a family tradition. By turning off electronic media a set time each day, you set the stage for lifelong reading success. Make a family reading goal – books you want to read together and post a reading record of what you read. While you are reading, stop and discuss the book. Do One Minute Book Reports. “I like this book because….” Discuss characters, plot, setting, and theme. “What did we learn from this book? Do we like the book? Would we recommend it to others?”

6. Read a variety of non-fiction: First, know your child’s background knowledge. Next, take a Book or Article Walk, noticing author, date, new vocabulary etc. As you read, make predictions or guesses, then read to find out if you’re right. Finally, summarize. Stop after chapter, page or paragraph. This boosts comprehension. Reread if necessary, doing repeated readings.

7. Immerse your developing readers in a weekly theme or topic. For example, study The Hubble, kimono dragons, etc. Read fiction and non-fiction; use library books and Internet articles. Theme based projects might include science experiments, art, field trips and writing. At the end of each theme, share what you learned. Themes reinforce family values: love, friendship, loyalty, courage, heroes and heroines, discovery, invention and adventure. Have your kids provide examples from their reading which support the theme. By teaching or reinforcing reading at home, you encourage new vocabulary, better comprehension and more fluent, expressive reading.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts,

P.S. Check out my Facebook page for great resources.

Sampler of Favorite Classic Books:

Madeline, Five Little Monkeys, Stone Soup, Rosie’s Walk, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Strega Nona, Stellaluna, Are You My Mother? Ira Sleeps Over, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Brown Bear, Love You Forever, Millions of Cats, Corduroy, Bear Shadow, The Carrot Seed, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps For Sale, Make Way For Ducklings, Chicka Chicka abc, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Yo, Yes! Rain, Leo The Late Bloomer, The Little Engine That Could, Goodnight Moon, Go Dog Go, The Snowy Day, Froggy Gets Dressed, Dr. Seuss books Chapter Books and Junior Novels Amelia Bedelia, James and The Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Sarah Plain andTall, Stone Fox, Matilda, Hatchet and The River, Sign Of The Beaver, Call of the Wild, Patty Reed’s Doll, Harriet The Spy, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Caddie Woodlawn, Number The Stars, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia

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