Listening to your child read a book is only part of the equation to helping them become better readers. The more involved you are with your child’s reading, the better, especially in the early stages of reading. The following are steps any parent can use to help their child progress in all areas of reading.
Step 1: Select the right book for your child. Take a trip to your local library. Libraries typically have a list of children’s books for each grade level. Ask the librarian for assistance. Stay away from books that are too easy or too hard. If your child is reading every word with ease, the book is too easy. However, if he opens up a book and after reading the first few sentences cannot recognize five words, the book may be too difficult. This process may take a week or two before you and your child can confidently recognize his comfort level or independent reading level.
Step 2: Take a picture walk. Before reading a book, take a “picture walk.” Have your child turn each page, looking at every picture during this step. As he is looking at the pictures, you can ask questions like, “What do you think this story is about? What is happening in this picture? What do you think will happen on the next page? Does this story remind you of anything our family has done together?” You can also bring up key vocabulary in the story to emphasize comprehension or locate a difficult word in advance. You can say, “This word looks pretty tricky. Do you know what this word is? Let’s try to sound it out together.” You can also say, “This word shows up a lot in this story. This could be what our story is about.” The picture walk serves as the warm up. It helps your child become more familiar with what he is about to read by building from his prior knowledge.
Step 3: Listen to your child read, and ask questions. It is fine if you help your child as he reads. However, if you find that you are helping him with every other word, the book is probably too difficult, and he needs to be bumped down to an easier book. Also, after your child reads a page or two, stop to discuss what is happening in the story. Use who, what when, where, why, and how questions. Don’t wait till the end of the story to ask questions. It is best practice to show a child that when we read, we are constantly checking for comprehension! Keep in mind that you may not finish the book the same day. Finish it the next day (or however long it may take). You can continue where you left off, but make sure to review what you read the day before. Once you have completed a book, it is always nice to read it again another day.
Step 4: Use a writing journal. Ask your child to draw a picture and/or write a sentence about what he read. The journal helps your child put his thoughts on paper and practice writing skills.