Thursday, December 3, 2009

Three Secrets to Helping Kids Read

Today I visited with Pat Montgomery of ParentsRule radio and we talked specifically about helping young children come to the reading table "at their prime time".  This post will serve as an additional resource to that interview (which you can hear via podcast anytime this week if you missed the live show).  Pat also has a blog with more information from her shows so you can find even more important information there.

Did you know . . .

Children begin to read normally between the ages of 4-6 (a few exceptions on either end of that spectrum) and it is important to know that each child comes to the reading table at a different time (and reading later than 4 doesn't mean your child is "behind").

Did you know that the vocabulary level of children by 1st grade can predict at least 30% of their success in comprehending what they read when they are 16 or 17?  The details are included in a longitudinal research study summarized in the book Beginning Literacy with Language.


Conversations are important.
Exploring print and books together is important.
Playing with the Language is important.

All of these work when they are consistently applied.  More details on all three of these concepts are covered in detail in my new book Anytime Reading Readiness (for parents) which makes a great holiday gift for a young family (or a stocking stuffer for yourself!)    Easy, fun activities that can be slipped into busy days, without too much "academic" pressure (which can be counterproductive) are what you will find in this family-friendly handbook.  It's also designed so you can find just the areas you need more information and ideas on or, if you want an overview, you can read from front cover to back.

If you are looking for a great gift for the preschool or kindergarten teacher in your life, you can choose the companion book to Anytime Reading Readiness, called Before They Read.  Covering the same three big ideas mentioned above, this takes a more academic focus for easy application in the classroom while retaining the important essential elements of reading readiness and emergent literacy.  A plus is that this book's margins are full of teacher tips and more ideas for involving families in complementing what is happening at school.  I purposely wrote both these books at the same time to give families and schools a target for working together because that is the way children learn to read most easily.
Here are a few of the resources mentioned on Pat's program today:

Indistructibles, great wordless books for "reading" and exploring with young children
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, one of Cathy's early favorite books
Singing (which we didn't get to) is always great - check out Fran Avni's CDs for great songs that are fun (and foster learning).

Join my revolution to draw families and schools together without an "academic hothouse" approach.  Reading and writing are tools for life, not just something that happens as an assignment or work in the classroom.  The most important part of reading, talking, and playing with language at home is that it gives time for a strong relationship between adult and child to grow.  That is the best part of literacy, combined with the fact that literacy is the doorway to all learning.  As a parent, don't worry if you're not a bookworm:  think - "It's bigger than the book" because it is.  The interaction you have with your child will grow literacy skills but it also helps the two of you grow closer.  It helps you understand your child more deeply; it helps your child connect with you.

You can also be a part of the revolution by sharing the resources from  TLA's website with schools, parent-teacher organizations, community family-friendly groups because literacy is everyone's business and children's literacy is our future.  TLA is currently booking me for events and conferences for 2010 and 2011.

Post questions you have in response to the radio show or to this blog and The Literacy Ambassador will be happy to respond!

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