Ready, Set, READ!
- Read books with rhyming word patterns. Books with repetition, rhymes and patterns can help children hear the sounds within words. This skill is called "phonemic awareness."
- Read a variety of Mother Goose rhymes. Nursery rhymes pair words with similar sounds and help prepare children for the transition from hearing sounds to reading them.
- Use alphabet books and stretch out some of the words as you read them, emphasizing the beginning, middle and ending sounds. This will demonstrate that words sometimes have the same beginning and ending sounds and sometimes the sounds are different.
Early Fluent Readers
- Ask questions as you read with your first grader to check for and encourage comprehension. Discuss who, what, where, when, why and how questions. "Why did Johnny cry?" "How would you feel if that happened to you?" or "What do you think will happen next?"
- Rewrite a story with your child, using different endings that he likes. Let him illustrate the story. Changing a story helps spark imagination and creativity and also encourages writing skills.
- As you read a book with your child, follow the text with your finger. This action will show her how a sentence progresses across the page.
- Read with expression, emphasizing and exaggerating question marks, exclamation marks, commas, etc. This will help your child understand how punctuation affects reading, as well as how stories can change in tone and mood.
Fluent Easy Readers
- Let your child pick out books to read, even if they are not classics. Indulge her taste for books about princesses or even favorite characters such as SpongeBob or Barbie. Children who like to read will continue to improve their skills and will broaden their reading tastes.
- Read everywhere you are: street signs, movie posters, billboards and food containers. This helps children see that reading is an integral part of everyday life. Bring a few of your child's favorite readers on outings, such as doctor's appointments. This shows children they can read for pleasure in many environments.
- Make a book of "favorite things." Staple sheets of paper together and ask your child to think of 10 favorite things. Some ideas include favorite foods, pets, friends, songs, movies and books. Encourage your child to write at least one sentence on each page.
- Continue to expose your advanced reader to poetry, as it reinforces the rhythm of language and stimulates imagination. Try authors such as Shel Silverstein, Jeff Moss, Jack Prelutsky and Doug Florian.
- Encourage your child to read longer books. Lengthier stories encourage children to recall what was read (characters and events) and to predict what might come next.
- Expose your child to other reading materials such as non-fiction books and magazines. There are many good quality magazines designed for young readers, including Time for Kids, National Geographic for Kids, Highlights, Ranger Rick, sports magazines and more. Many magazines also feature an online component.