Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teach Them To Read, Tip #1

Wow - so it's been way too long since my last post - I apologize. And I plan to make up for it with an over abundance of dashes in the following 'play catch-up' post. We've been dealing with some health issues - not to be alarmed, I'm talking standard winter cold and flu like symptoms - nothing serious. However, trying to keep on top of life is hard enough when you're healthy. Feeling slightly under the weather trumps blogging, and therefore, my somewhat lengthy silence. However, as promised, lots of dashes.

I promised to give some tips on teaching children how to read, or more importantly, how to love reading. I want to emphasize once again that I'm in no way a certified professional, but having worked as a teacher in the field, I do know the basic tricks. In fact, you may be surprised to learn you actually know them too, even if you weren't aware of it.

And the things I've learned about literacy education I have turned around and used with my own children, so from personal experience, I know they are valid. My six-year-old daughter (notice how I snuck the dashes in???) finished reading Ramona the Pest last night. By herself. I don't say that to brag - I'm just pointing out that there's at least a little bit of truth to these simple teaching techniques.

Aware that I am probably 'preaching to the choir', I will get down off my soap box and get to the point of this post.

How do you teach a child to love to read?

Tip #1 - You read to them.

That's the first and probably most important tip. Read to your kids daily. At least fifteen minutes (that's about three books). We'll get to the how, and what and why in another post, because I think the true emphasis in this technique lies behind the action.

Read to them. Or with them, if you prefer that semantic.

And as simple as it sounds, it works. Professional studies prove that if you do nothing else to teach your child to read but this, they will learn to read (if there are no learning difficulties involved - such may require a different approach).

And as simple as it sounds, it's not as common as it should be. Too high a percentage of parents these days don't even spend fifteen minutes one-on-one with their kids, never mind reading to them. I don't say that as a political/philosophical opinion. I'm just stating a truth.

The beauty of the solution lies in its simplicity as well - it's not hard to adopt the practice of reading fifteen minutes daily. If you are analyzing you're own habits right now, and realize you are missing out on this vital learning opportunity, it's not too late to make a change. If you know of someone who could use this important interaction, encourage change.

Need some inspiration? There's some well known, successful storytellers in the world of children's literature. Names such as Don and Audrey Wood, Robert Munsch and Eric Carle span two or more decades of high quality, well loved story production. But just as in the world of novels, children's literature does not stagnate. Here are some suggestions for authors I have found that are making huge headway with their picture books - because they're that good.

Mo Willems has some incredibly popular books available - including the 'Pigeon' series. This books, however, will remain one of my all time favorite children's books. It's about Leonardo, who just can't scare anybody, and has to learn that there is something more important in life than being a scary monster.

Melanie Watt is an author on fire. Here books are fresh, original, funny and plentiful. Not only does she have the scaredy squirrel series (that includes an admontion to wash your hands with antibacterial soap before reading) but the incredibly popular 'Chester' series, in which Melanie has to wrestle with a Narcissic (did I spell that right?) cat over a fat red pen and the rights to authorship of the story. If you've never read her, head to the library Pronto!

Tom Lichtenheld is also producing a large array of high quality books (most of them co-authored by other up and coming talents). This is one of my favorite. A little cloud who dreams of being something more Cummulous (again with the spelling - I'm too tired to google it).

Finally, for the night, an author I found just this month. Michal Hall makes shapes exciting. This book is about a square that thinks he's perfect until he gets torn up and realizes he can be so much more. I read this book five times today, and still not sick of it. Plus, it has great opportunity for quality art time with the kids.

Snuggle up with one of these fantastic reads with your kids, and I promise you won't regret it!


  1. Sorry to hear you've been unwell- hope everyone is doing better soon. Looking forward to checking out your book recommendations!

  2. I loved reading to my kids and now to my grandchildren. It really paid off because all of my kids and grandchildren enjoy to read. Great tips. And thanks for the heads up on the books.


Leave a Comment...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...