Miss Five is my little book worm.
Her favourite thing in the world is to curl up with a good book.
Each night after I read her a bedtime story or two … or three … or four, she’ll walk over to her bookcase and choose a selection of books to sleep with. A couple go under her pillow and one stands up pride in place on the shelf at the head of her bed. This book is the chosen one that she will read until her eyes become heavy with sleep.
Miss Five is learning to read. She can recognise some words and can read a simple sentence. This doesn’t stop her from choosing very wordy books for her solo night time reading expeditions.
She’s currently ‘reading’ one of Samantha Turnbull’s The Anti-Princess Club books. She was instantly drawn to the book because the lead character has the same name as her cousin, plus she was thrilled to bits when she discovered her own name in it. God only knows how she reads it. I think she basically scans each page for words she recognises.
When she started Prep this year, I changed the focus of our bedtime reading to me helping her learn to read. I’ve been practicing a few words with her and asking her to point them out in books. She gets frustrated easily and mad at herself when she can’t sound out or recognise a word. She desperately wants to read and is rushing herself. I’m finding it difficult to get her to relax and slow down. Talk about being her mother’s daughter!
It was perfect timing when Dymocks asked me to promote their Kids Festival of Fiction and give me the chance to ask Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association a few questions on helping kids to read.
Here’s what Ryan had to say.
What are the signs that indicate your child is ready to read?
Readers in the emergent stage of reading are usually those who are just gaining an understanding of how a text works. They will display good book handling behaviours, they will know where the book begins and ends and they understand that print and pictures convey a message. In this stage readers can usually recognise a small number of high-frequency words (5-20 words) that occur regularly throughout a text.
How can I tell if my child is developing her reading ability as she should?
It is near impossible to determine whether a child is developing in their reading ability at the rate that they should. As every child is different and has different interests, comparisons in this way often lead to disappointment and frustration. As a parent, the best thing that you can do to help your child develop in their reading is to share a love of books. Reading together often, talking about books and becoming a family that reads together are some of the most reliable ways to help your child on their reading journey.
What books you can recommend to help beginners learn to read?
New and exciting books are always a great motivator to help assist children to develop their reading ability. Dymocks is hosting a Kids Festival of Fiction throughout March, with a great selection of best-sellers, kid’s classics and new releases for kids of all ages, including beginning readers.
How can parents help their children learn to read?
By using supportive strategies that encourage children to be active participants in the reading process. When you are reading together with your child, it’s a great idea to give them the option of how they would like to read. Provide the opportunity for children to choose whether they would like to read aloud or silently. Check if they would like to try paired reading (reading together at the same time) or if they feel like they need extra support to access words in the book.
When your child comes to a word they don’t know or aren’t sure of, remember to:
- Wait: give your child a chance to figure out the word on their own
- Ask: does that make sense? Does the picture give you a clue? Could you read on for more information?
- Then skip: if the child is still stuck on the word, ask them to skip it and read on. You can always drop that word into conversation as you turn the page. This has the added advantage of not making the child wrong!
How can you make learning to read fun?
The simplest way to encourage children to engage in reading is to relax around the process. Parents are often anxious when they feel that reading isn’t going as well for their children as it should be. This then translates to the children that they are reading with. The physical location can make a real difference to how the reading is perceived and enjoyed. Try lying down on the lounge room floor, mum and dad’s bed, or outside under a tree.
- Don’t be a word pointer
The core of the reading process is making meaning. When a child changes a word in the text, they are being a resourceful reader. They are working towards making sure that the text that they are reading makes sense for them. The child who reads the word flu instead of cold is putting the text into their own context. As adults, we frequently miscue when reading, though often we are unaware it has happened. Children need to know that it is okay to not read “word perfect” all of the time. When a child changes a word, or looks to a parent for help, the importance of making meaning needs to be shared.
- Let your children choose what they want to read
Book choice is a vital component of the reading process. As adults, we very rarely read anything that we either don’t love or enjoy. Why then do we insist that children must read cover to cover something they don’t necessarily enjoy? It is often hard to let go and let children choose their own books. This is vital, however, for developing strong, self-sufficient readers.
- What can you do when your child becomes frustrated when she can’t recognise words?
Avoid eye contact with the child. When a child looks to us for help with a word, we often want to save them, help the reading process move along, and provide the word. This is an unsustainable strategy for the child as they need a set of skills to call upon when they are reading with you. Rather than looking at your child, focus your attention on the book. After all, this is where all the clues are to figuring out the word. Encourage your child to skip the word and read on for more information, use the pictures for a clue, or even leave the word and continue reading. By refocusing the child’s attention back to the meaning of the text, the content of the text will help fill in the blanks. If your child has skipped the word and still can’t figure it out, drop the word into the conversation as you turn the page or discuss after you’ve finished reading together.
How great is that advice? Thanks Ryan!
To celebrate the Kids Festival of Fiction, Dymocks is allowing me to giveaway a book pack to one lucky reader including:
1 x Pig the Pug – Aaron Blabey
1 x Possum Magic – Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
1 x The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
1 x The BFG – Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
1 x The 13-Storey Treehouse – Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
In the comments below, tell me which book you and your child are enjoying at the moment and why.
Terms and conditions
– This giveaway is only open to Australian residents (excluding ACT).
– This giveaway closes at 8pm AEST on Thursday 31 March.
– Winners will be contacted via email on Friday 1 April. (No joke 😉 )
– This is a game of skill. The most interesting answer as judged by a panel will be deemed a winner.
This is not a sponsored post. Mummy, Wife, Me did not receive compensation for this post. She simply wants to share some book loving love.
Linking up today With Some Grace for FYBF.