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Reading Once, Reading Twice ... How to help your child become a reader (or a better reader).

(Continued from EdWorld At Home)

One of the most important jobs parents do is to support the growth of their childrens reading skills and habits. This support happens in three phases:

1. Learning to Read
Even without formal teacher training, parents can do a lot to help children prepare to learn reading. Youre no doubt familiar with the most basic task in this, which is to read to your children from the time theyre very young. Some say its good to read aloud to children even before theyre born during pregnancy. There are thousands of wonderful picture books, board books, and other pre-reading materials readily available in public libraries, bookstores, and even online.

Once children are old enough to begin to point to the picture on a page that corresponds with a word youre reading, you can help cement the relationship between word and sound by pointing to the word. Teaching letter sounds is another important building block of literacy: Its no coincidence that building blocks themselves traditionally have letters printed on their surfaces! Again, as a parent its probably best not to over-worry methodology. Just get great books with great pictures and stories and take the time to truly enjoy sharing them with your youngest.

Helping Your Child Become a Reader is a U.S. Department of Education publication available free online that not only gives great advice about incorporating literacy activities into your family life, but also a description of the typical stages of reading development, resources for children, and even information regarding No Child Left Behind.

2. Loving to Read
Of course, to reach higher levels of achievement in school and beyond, kids need to go beyond the mere ability to read and learn to love reading. Probably the biggest thing parents can do to help kids make that move is to teach by example. Its perhaps easier to watch some TV after a hard days work, or to pop a rented movie into a DVD player. Many people, of course, work two jobs, and many households with two income earners find their evenings taken up with housework and other chores. But if its at all possible, picking up a book, or even a magazine or newspaper, is going to show your kids the value and pleasure of reading more than all the speeches you might give.

To learn to love reading, of course, kids need to find books that are right for them. Reading Is Fundamental has a page called Choosing Good Books that can be of great help.

Also, the International Reading Association publishes book lists compiled from recommendations from teachers, kids, and parents. You can see the lists at https://www.literacyworldwide.org/404?404;https://www.literacyworldwide.org:80/resources/tools/choices.html.

3. Reading to Learn
Something that is often neglected in our discussion of literacy is the importance of nonfiction reading (newspapers, magazines, textbooks, etc.). We often focus so much on kids learning to love reading picture books, then chapter books, then novels, we forget that kids must also learn to skim text for information, to evaluate logical arguments, and to understand info-graphics (charts, tables, maps, graphs). Again, without getting hung up too much on methodology, sharing information with your children in these forms is a good way to teach them the value of these skills. For example, if youre going to have a system by which kids earn an allowance by doing certain household chores, create a chart for it instead of a simple list. Share newspaper and magazine articles with your kids on topics of local importance ... and discuss them.

SO: Learn to Read, Love to Read, Read to Learn ... A great motto for families concerned with helping their children reach full literacy!

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