“Just 15 minutes a day, that’s all it will take to make your child a good reader.”
I know it sounds easy to do, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice. As a parent, I remember trying to do this, but it often turned out to be a gong show. I would end up feeling guilty and frustrated because those 15 minutes were a struggle.
Over the last 30 years I have worked as an occupational therapist (OT) with school-aged children. It has taught me a lot about reading. You may wonder what the connection is between my OT work and reading. That’s a good question. As an occupational therapist, I work in schools helping kids learn to write. Since writing and reading are so connected, I have ended up learning a lot about reading.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Books that are really easy for kids to read are THE place to start.
These books are the ones that kids read over and over. These are SUPER books for building confidence! This may mean starting with picture books. Examples of these books are the “Elephant and Piggie” books by Mo Willems, or many of the simpler Dr. Seuss books like “The Cat in the Hat”.
The Oxford Owl website is a great source of free ebooks for ages 3 – 11 at many different reading levels. Registration is free.
Books that your child is ‘just’ able to read are the next step.
When you sit down to read with your child, they should be able to read most of the words. If they are getting stuck on every second word, it’s too hard. You can use strategies like: sounding out the word, looking at the pictures to get hints and taking turns reading to figure out the words they don’t know.
Schools have their own set of strategies. Ask them what they are. The One to One Children’s Literacy program has six strategies that are helpful when the going gets tough.
Author Robert Munch has written lots of books – stories about kids and stories that kids have told him. Many of these books are online as videos. This can be an excellent way to share a story with your child before they read the book. It will help them with tricky words. It will give them an understanding of the whole story and it will give them an idea of what words they will find on the pages.
Here’s the link to Robert Munch’s videos:
Books that are a bit too difficult for your child to read are good too (but you’ll have to do the reading).
These books help kids learn to love stories. Even ‘just listening’ your child will pick up things – different words, new ways to think about things or have their imagination stretched.
Books like, “The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, “The Penderwicks”, “The Magic Treehouse”, “Nate the Great”, “The Dragon Master”, and “The Land of Stories” are all wonderful read aloud books. My husband and I read these to our daughter at night – she says they made her the reader that she is today!
If you aren’t available to read to your child, then see what books are available online. Here’s a link to “The Land of Stories”. While it is being read, your child can follow along with the text on the screen.
Need more information about reading with kids? Are you interested in becoming a volunteer tutor to help kids improve their reading skills and reading confidence? Contact the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy community literacy coordinator in your community for more information.
One to One Tutor - Cranbrook