However, just like any other muscle in the body, the brain needs exercise and reading is a wonderful source of cognitive stimulation to exercise a child’s brain. Everything a child reads or has read to them fills their head with information.
The more they read, the more words they will gain exposure to and eventually, those words will make their way into everyday vocabulary. In addition to reducing stress, immersing in a good book can transport children to another time and place.
How can parents and teachers inspire children to read? For starters, it helps to get excited about reading. Talk about a good mystery or adventure story with a “can’t wait” attitude. Here are some ideas to get children into reading during National Reading Month and every month throughout the year:
March was chosen for National Reading Month to recognize the many contributions of Dr. Seuss. So, grab a cupcake, light a candle, and honor this great author by reading any one of the classics.
The research to support the positive outcomes of reading to young children is abundant. Reading to a child in the early years can foster skills that are directly related to later reading success. For the pre-reader and emergent reader, try diving into a book without words. These little gems offer opportunities for children to get creative with oral language and establish comprehension by connecting with the story in pictures. Here are a few favorite wordless books:
The Arrival by Shaun Ton Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
The Umbrella by Jan Brett Chalk by Bill Thomson
Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day Where is the Cake by TT Khing
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman
Mr. Men series by Roger Hargreaves Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves
Share a love for reading.
Talk to children about your favorite books that you have read at different times in your own life. Talk about your favorite type of story, author, or compare a book to the movie version. Set up a book swap with the neighborhood kids or other classes down the hall. Fill a cart or wagon with favorite reads and let kids leave a gently used book to exchange for another. Encourage readers to write a review on an index card and tuck it inside the cover. Consider gathering a group of kids together to talk about a favorite. Book clubs are still very popular and often just need a “host” to get started.
Make reading about interests and choices.
Take a trip to the library or select a great, inexpensive read on the Scholastic Book Wizard. Check out a variety of fiction and non-fiction choices. Try out a resource like Hoopla, which allows users to explore and check out a vast collection of books, audiobooks, and movies from libraries all across the country.
Match books to the reading level.
When children choose books above or below their independent reading level, it can lead to frustration. Books should be selected that the child can read with few errors and with little help. If a child shows interest in a book that is above this level, then select it as a read-aloud and dive into it together or search for an audiobook version.
Establish a reading routine.
If reading has lost its place in your family’s day-to-day routine, then it may be time to rekindle a love for this favorite pastime and re-establish reading habits for all. Have “dear” (drop everything and read) time during the week and let everyone reconnect with a great story or set aside a special time before bed to cozy up to an anticipated story.
Show the useful side of reading.
Reading is fundamental. By definition, this means that it forms an essential core and is something that is of vital importance. Make reading fun and purposeful by creating a dinner menu for the week. Give the grocery list to your child to find items in the store. Follow a recipe in the kitchen or steps to build a birdhouse. Drop notes in the lunchbox or read a map to find a hidden treasure.
Make reading available.
Set up a book nook to keep good reads available at all times and in plain view. Make word captions for pictures in the family photo album or invite an out-of-state relative to be a pen pal. Have one of many high-interest magazines delivered through the mail like National Geographic Kids, Lego Club, Zoo Books, or Sports Illustrated for Kids. These monthly treasures are sure to keep them running to the mailbox.
Peel back the layers of learning in every book.
Every book exposes a reader to opportunities to activate critical thinking. Sharing reading with a child offers insight into their predictions, wonders, and ability to monitor and understand the content. Read to your child, let him read to you, and take turns. Books in a series are especially good sources for developing these skills:
Curiosity and Clues
Call the child’s attention to the title of the story and the cover. Consider the words and pictures as clues to help predict what will be uncovered in the story. The child is encouraged to ask as many questions as possible about what is read.
Flag the Unknowns
Teach the child to hold up a hand or pause reading when he hears an unfamiliar word. Initially, the child may need to be reminded to identify words that are unknown. These words can be written on sticky notes or index cards for further discussion. Re-read the sentence, offer a similar word, or act out the meaning to promote comprehension.
Read and Stop
Model metacognition or “thinking aloud”. Pause reading after transitional sentences and at the end of each page to generate questions about what will happen next and to summarize what was read.
Retell and Summarize
At the end of each chapter, help the child to summarize key details and reword the events. The child should be encouraged to sequence the events in the order they occurred in the chapter. Questions that answer who, what, where, and why will spark the child’s memory.
The author’s use of descriptive words creates a mental image of what is happening in the story. Combined with the reader’s background knowledge, creative imagination, and comprehension of the text the words come to life and allow for the reader to play a movie in her mind while reading. This strategy, called visualizing, is how we stay connected to the characters, settings, and experiences in a good book.
Inferencing happens when the reader uses the knowledge and information he has generated from clues to draw conclusions. Inferencing is often referred to as reading “between the lines” because the information is not concretely stated, but rather implied.
Identify the Main Idea
To help the child to see the big picture, ask him to identify the main idea of the chapter. This helps the child to sequence information into a hierarchy of importance and pull all of the details together.
While reading, the child will learn to use personal experiences to make sense of the text and to make meaningful connections to characters and situations. Statements like, “This reminds me of…”, “That happened to me…”, or “This is like my family” can significantly enhance the child’s ability to understand the story.
Parents and teachers play an important role in creating a culture of reading at home and school. Whether your goals for reading are to improve knowledge, enhance memory, build a stronger vocabulary, or you just want to escape and take a new journey, know that your passion for reading is contagious. Take advantage of National Reading Month and pick up a good book today. Make reading a family tradition today.
Great reads for children 8 and under
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Froodle by Antoinette Portis
Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park
Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osbourne
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith
Wonder Bear by Tao Nyen
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard
Oh the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris
Thank you, Omu by Oge Mora
Grow Happy by Jon and Sage Lasser
A Single Pebble by John Hersey
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Baloney by John Scieszka
Great reads for children over 9
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Last Slice of Rainbow by Joan Aiken
Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
Hardy Boys Series by Franklin W. Dixon
Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
Wonder by R.J. Palaci0
HOOT by Carl Hiaason
The Virginia Mystery Series by Steven K. Smith
Paper Boy by Dav Pilkey
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
Capital Mysteries by Ron Roy
Escape from Mr. Lemincello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High
The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The 39 Clues Series by Rick Riordan
Dr. Kirstina Ordetx is a Level 4 Master Instructor with The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in pediatric neurology. Dr. Ordetx is an educational specialist with over 25 years of clinical experience, research, and consultation. She is a certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist through the Center for Effective Reading Instruction, a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Executive Functions Coach, and a registered Licensed Mental Health Intern. Dr. Ordetx has published two books that compile her research and practice in Theory of Mind. She has served on accreditation committees for the Florida Council of Independent Schools, is a university adjunct professor in developmental and child psychology, and presents at various national and international conferences. Dr. Ordetx is head of school for a private academy in Lakewood Ranch, Florida specializing in the multi-sensory education of students who have language and learning-based differences. She is the Executive Director of the Pinnacle Pediatric Therapy Group, a multi-disciplinary, pediatric therapy clinic.
IMSE believes that all children should be able to read. To achieve this end, IMSE wants to bring Orton-Gillingham to all educators to give children the best literacy instruction possible.
Learn more about what you can do to improve literacy for all using the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham training.
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