Scholastic, the publisher of so many children’s books, offers seven tips to increase reading opportunities for children on its website, http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/more-reading-resources/reading-tips-parents. I have paraphrased them below.
- Label everything in your home with masking tape or Post-it notes. This is a great way for young children to learn vocabulary, including long words such as refrigerator and calculator.
- Find a book that is “just right” for your child. Have the child read the front cover, the back cover, and the first page of a book. If the child can read all the words, the book might be okay or it might be too easy. If the child can’t read five of the words, the book is probably too hard.
- Teach the child how to read a street map of your neighborhood. Reading diagrams, maps and graphs is an important skill in Common Core curriculum. Have the child translate the diagram into word directions. “Go down the front steps. Turn left. Walk to the end of the street. Turn left onto Delaware Avenue and keep walking until you get to Lincoln Park. Be careful crossing the street.”
- Read greeting cards together. Go to the grocery store or drug store’s birthday card section. Read the cards together and vote which one is best.
- Take pictures during an outing or vacation. Later, ask the child to create captions for each photo and gather them into a photo album. Or make a booklet of photos and words.
- Read the Sunday comics with your child. Cut out good ones to hang on the refrigerator. Reread them. [Inference can be learned from this activity, looking at facial expressions where words are not used.]
- Help your child write a letter to his favorite author. Most authors have a website which will accept emails. Or you can find a mailing address on the publisher’s website.
A little over a year ago, Mrs. K and I sat at my dining room table and made plans for a blog and a series of books for early readers. A month ago, December, 17, marked the first year anniversary of our blog. During the past year:
- We have received more than 10,000 views of our website.
- Two topics have tied for the most read blogs:
- how not to mix up b and d, and
- the meaning of CVC.
- The third most-read blog was about teaching vowel sounds.
- Many other well-read blogs concern methods of teaching reading and information about our book apps and funny pages.
- More than half the views come from U.S. readers.
- Yet viewers from the U.K, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, India, New Zealand and South Korea also read our blog often.
- Viewers come from every continent except Antarctica.
Click on the chart to enlarge it.
This information is useful in planning blogs for 2014. We thank you, our readers, for reading our blog, for leaving comments and for making suggestions for future blogs. Our goal is to continue to provide useful information for teaching little children how to read.
Are you running into problems teaching your child to read? Have you come across a new book that your child loves to read? Have you found web sites or apps that your child uses to learn to read? Let us know so we can pass along information to your fellow parents and teachers.
— Mrs. A
You might notice that most of our blogs focus on how to apply educational theory to teaching your child to read.
But you might be thinking that our Funny Pages are just that—funny pages. In fact, they too apply educational theory to learning how to read.
- Kids love humor. Our Funny Pages begin with humorous situations—a cat wearing a baseball cap and holding a bat, or a man running inside a can. Even if the child can’t read, he can enjoy looking at the silly pictures. We think of the silly pictures as our “Gotch-ya!” moment with the child.
- Our reading words are almost all one-syllable, short-vowel, CVC words. Nearly every method of teaching reading begins with these kinds of words because they are the easiest to grasp.
- Most of our Funny Pages begin with just one or two words (usually the subject) and build onto those words with another word or two, and then another, and another. The first line is repeated in the second line and then added to. For example:
- John can.
- John can go.
- John can go up.
- John can go up a hill.
By repeating words, there is less new information on each line, so the child can rely on what he has already learned and build on that.
- White space around words makes them look “friendlier” and less intimidating. So even though the first lines in most of our Funny Pages might have only one or two words, that white space after those words serves a powerful reading function: to relax the child and encourage her to read.
- We notice that so much beginning reading material is not “literature.” It uses easy-to-read CVC words, yes, but the words have little meaning because the grouping of words makes little sense. Sentences like “A cat bats a fat hat at Pat on a mat,” leave the child wondering what that sentence means. The words contrive to tell a story, but the child has to work hard to understand. We start not with the words but with the story—the silly art that lures children into the words because the art work is so funny. Then we add words to describe what is happening.
- Telling a story about wax in ears can be frustrating if we don’t use the word “ear.” Or telling a story about a girl falling down a hill can be daunting if we don’t use the words “fall” or “down.” But we have chosen to gear our Funny Pages to beginning readers, and to stick to simple CVC words that they can sound out successfully.
Do you have a beginning reader? We welcome your feedback on how they respond to our Funny Pages. We also welcome your child’s idea of a silly story for Mrs. A to illustrate. How would your little girl or boy like to see “Submitted by” and her or his first name on one of our funny pages? Send us your children’s ideas.