Reading, like piano, soccer, ballet, or chess, requires practice in order to learn the fundamentals and to get better at it! Improvement in reading (as in the other activities), not only comes from practice but also from modeling by those who are already experts.
Parents know and do this for their toddlers. The adults are rhyming and reading, teaching letters, sounds, and words along the way. As students get into school, reading aloud becomes a bit more complex. If you have a young student (K-1), this article, Seven Things You Should Be Doing as You’re Reading to Your Child, has some worthwhile tips you might not have thought of as you’re reading together.
As students become more independent readers, parents typically back off and let the student read. This is great, but not enough! The child still needs a good model, especially if the book is more challenging than the student is ready for. Independent reading for elementary school students should not be frustrating! Research has proven that it’s much better to have a student read and re-read easy books, as that is where automaticity and fluency are solidified, and comprehension built. Think about Rajon Rondo practicing his free throws. He’s shot them a million times, and makes them most of the time, but even he still needs repetition and practice!
Reading aloud with your child provides access to materials that are above his or her reading level. Jim Trelease (author of The Read Aloud Handbook) says, “A consistent mistake made by parents and teachers is the assumption that a child’s listening level is the same as his or her reading level. Until about eighth grade, that is far from true; early primary grade students listen many grades above their reading level. This means that early primary grade students are capable of hearing and understanding stories that are far more complicated than those they can read themselves.” So, if your child is anxious to read, The Hunger Games, before the movie comes out in late March (and you think they can deal with the subject matter) then that book becomes a great read aloud for you together, not something for him or her to tackle independently.
Need some suggestions? The local librarians always know what’s new (and sometimes more importantly, what’s hot!) Also, there are numerous sites on-line (including Jim Trelease’s website which I linked above.) Others include:
March is typically one of those long, boring months where winter activities are winding down and spring things haven’t yet started. There are no holidays, no long weekends, and the weather is quite unpredictable. It’s a great month to choose a book to read together. There is a time for independent practice, and a time for modeling, I hope you can fit in both!