Carried Away with Reading
parents and children gear up for Back-to-School, the single most
important skill that parents can instill in their child is the love
of reading. Research shows that a child who reads a book for just
20 minutes a day, performs better in school. Parents are their childs
first teacher and can help their child succeed in school!
the company that publishes such blockbuster hits as Harry Potter,
Captain Underpants, and Clifford the Big Red Dog is committed to
helping every child learn to read, and love to read and we
invite you and your readers to Get Carried Away with Reading.
To help inform ALL parents about the importance of reading, Scholastics
reading experts have complied an easy-to-follow guide to the ages
and stages of reading development, offering tips and advice for
raising a reader, as well as great new books for 2004, that kids
will love to read.
Ages and Stages of Reading
0-3 PHONEMIC AWARENESS
. The brain is programmed to learn from the day we
are born. As an infants first teachers, parents and caregivers
play a critical role in exposing even the youngest children to the
sights and sounds of reading. Singing, speaking and reading to children
at this stage helps to prepare them for formal schooling.
you know? Rhyming, singing, making sounds and reading simple books
helps your infant and toddler develop PHONEMIC AWARENESS (knowledge
of the sounds that letters make). Helping children build a solid
vocabulary and familiarity with letters and sounds will give them
a heads up in school.
Tip: Make time every day to read stories aloud, sing songs or rhymes,
and play language games to introduce your baby to the sounds of
Tip: Choose a book with bright and familiar pictures and sturdy
pages made of cardboard, plastic or washable cloth.
3-6 LETTER KNOWLEDGE
At this age
Young children have active minds that are observing
and practicing using letters, sounds, and numbers, as well as noticing
words in print. Parents can help build childrens LETTER KNOWLEDGE
with fun activities such as teaching a child to write his or her
you know? Children should be able to easily identify 10 letters
of the alphabet, and should be exposed to all 24, before entering
Tip: Label your childs books, toys and clothes to help your
child identify letters and words, especially his or her name, for
example: Jackies shoe. Join the local library, and participate
in your childs programs; choose special books to read and
check out books to take home with you, as well.
Tip: Choose books with simple concepts like numbers, shapes or colors,
as well as books that invite children to participate. Books about
animals or books with children as the main characters are often
6-8 SIGHT WORDS
At this Age
Children are breaking through and learning to
read, so they need to know all of their letters and multiple sounds.
These all-important skills must be practiced and well honed into
you know? Reading does not come naturally! It is a practiced skill
that needs to be fostered. Research suggests that children need
to be exposed to words between 6 and 60 times before they can commit
them to memory and read them fluently.
Tip: Parents should help their children learn the first 50 SIGHT
WORDS, the most common words in print such as: the, is, from. These
words help link ideas, sentences, and ultimately stories together,
and should be easily identifiable by your child so he or she can
focus on more challenging words and their meanings.
Tip: To make beginning readers LOVE reading, allow them to choose
books on any topic that interests them. It is important that children
have positive experiences with books and reading at this stage,
and they must have age-appropriate books that are not too hard and
not too easy, so that they can be successful.
If your child is still having difficulty reading at age 8, parents
should plan to address the problem. A few suggestions:
Start with the teacher. Schedule a one-on-one appointment and find
out if there is an underlying problem that is more serious or requires
more concentrated support.
Work with the teacher to implement a reading improvement plan for
9-12 COMPREHENSION AND VOCABULARY
At this age
Children need to be reading regularly both in school
and at home. They need ongoing encouragement, and should be surrounded
by a book-rich environment at home. Parents should encourage children
to build COMPREHENSION and VOCABULARY by exposing them to a variety
of book genres and subject areas such as science fiction, mystery
you know? One of the factors contributing to poor reading skills
is a lack of a variety in books and reading materials. It is essential
that books that can spark a childs interest are available
in order that they commit the time and effort to becoming better
Tip: Keep reading to your children, even if they are excellent readers
on their own. Expose them to more advanced reading materials like
newspapers, magazines and chapter books that are beyond their reading
level, but of interest to them.
Tip: Choose books on topics that will grab your childs attention
such as: pop stars, sports or hobbies.
13-15 READING IMPACTS TEST SCORES
At this age
Helping to keep up childrens reading momentum
is a tall order, but now more than ever adolescent readers need
parental support. Help children to understand that reading is key
to their schooling and long-term success, as well as a being a great
way to learn more about history, their world and themselves.
you know: The amount of reading and the types of books children
read has an impact on how well students are prepared for standardized
tests like the PSATs and SATs. Just as training for a marathon requires
sustained practice, gaining sophisticated vocabulary and comprehension
skills cannot be crammed into a few weeks before an exam. Only through
frequent exposure to challenging reading material can these skills
Tip: Read the same book your adolescent child is reading, and then
make time to share thoughts and ideas about the story and characters
together. Many classics offer wonderful opportunities to read a
book and then enjoy the movie version together.
Tip: Although children are choosing their own reading materials
at this point, it is important for parents to remember to give the
gift of reading. Find stories that offer a great escape, and take
your child to another place or time. Reward your children with books.
Present them as special birthday and holiday gifts so that they
value and treasure them as you do.
Alexander is Scholastic's Chief Academic Officer and an education
and reading expert.
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