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Beyond The Abcs : Nurturing A Love Of Reading

In recent years, parents have heard a lot in the media about what is lacking in our school system, and how so many of today’s kids can’t read. When I worked with upper grade students as an elementary Reading Specialist, the truth was almost all of my students could technically read. They had learned phonics and appeared to be readers. But what many of them didn't have was an understanding of what they were reading. Instead of more phonics instruction, these students needed to learn how to think.

As reading becomes more complex many children begin to struggle simply because they focus too much on sounding out words and they don't take the time to think about what they are reading. When this happens, reading becomes something kids feel they have to do rather than something they want to do.

The good news is, parents can teach their children how to think, even when they are young, and nurture a love of reading at home by moving beyond phonics, beyond the basics, beyond the ABCs.

How Parents Can Teach Children to Be Thoughtful Readers

Making Connections
Have you ever been reading and thought, “That reminds me of….…..”? If so, then you were doing something that all good readers do! Good readers make connections before, during and after reading to enhance their understanding of what they are reading.

As parents, we need to encourage our children to make connections to help them discover how personal the reading experience can be. Personal connections can help children remember what they’ve read and increase the likelihood that they will be more thoughtful readers down the road. But most of all children who make connections when they read are more likely to enjoy the reading experience and develop a lifetime reading habit.

To encourage your child to make connections, try using some of the following phrases when reading aloud to your child:

· “That reminds me of….”
· “That is just like …..”

or prompt them with a question like…

· “Do you remember when we did that….”?
· “Have you ever felt that way?”


Asking Questions
Young children are naturally curious. They constantly ask us questions as they try to make sense out of their world. Good readers (young and old) also ask themselves questions before, during and after they read as they try to make sense of what they are reading.

Being curious, asking questions and wondering about things are the foundation to developing an inner desire to read and learn. Our personal questions make us want to read and learn more so we can figure things out.

One way parents can encourage children to think and ask their own questions when reading is to use the phrase, “I’m wondering…..” This phrase provides children with a model of what good thinking sounds like and, over time, children will eventually use this phrase themselves. Here is an example of what an adult might say during a read aloud:

“I’m wondering how the little boy is going to figure this out.”

You can also prompt children to ask thoughtful questions, by simply saying, “What are you wondering about?” Your child’s question might lead to a good discussion, or you might simply respond with “Great question. Let’s keep reading and maybe we’ll find out.”

Visualizing
If you have ever laughed out loud when reading something to yourself, it’s probably because you had a clear picture in your mind of the funny event you were reading about. Good readers visualize (make pictures or images in their minds) when they are actively thinking about what they are reading.

Visualizing personalizes reading and helps keep readers engaged in the story. Visualizing requires young children to listen closely to the words of the story, because it is the words that help bring the pictures to life. As children transition to longer texts there are fewer pictures, or none at all, and they must pay attention to the details to create an interesting image in their mind.

Parents can encourage children to visualize by saying, “I can really picture that in my mind, can you?” or “Close your eyes and listen while I read. Then tell me what you see in your mind.” It is also helpful if parents use lots of expression and interesting character voices when they read aloud. Doing this helps bring the story to life.

Making Predictions
Before you ever open a book, you probably have an idea of what it might be about because of the title and picture on the cover. And as you read the book, you probably think about what might happen next. Making predictions is exactly what good readers do when they are actively involved with a story.

A prediction is basically a guess, based on previous knowledge and the clues given in the story. When a reader makes a prediction it means they are paying attention to the details in the story and thinking beyond the words on the page. As they continue to read, good readers will confirm or dismiss old predictions and make new ones, when appropriate.

When reading aloud, parents and teachers can encourage children to make predictions by simply asking, “What do you think is going to happen next?” Parents and teachers should also make their own predictions when reading with children to demonstrate what good readers do. Here are some helpful words & phrases you can use when making a prediction.

“I bet he’s going to….”
“I think he might…..”
“He’s probably going to …”

After making a prediction, try to explain why you made that guess. This will help children learn that a good prediction isn’t a random guess, rather it’s an educated guess based on logical thinking.

Remember, reading is much more than sounding out words; reading is thinking. When children learn how to think about what they are reading, they are able to be successful learners in school and beyond!

Submitted by:

Kris Meyers

Kris Meyers is a PCI Certified Parent Coach and Reading Specialist. You can visit Kris’s website http://www.beyondtheabcs.com to learn more the services Kris offers to support parents. You can also sign up for a FREE newsletter on the website which focuses on strategies parents can use to nurture a love of reading, writing & learning at home.




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