Here are Top Ten Tips on How to Teach Reading
1. Read Aloud.
No child is ever too old to be read to and reading to a child is the most powerful of all tools we have to teach our children the beauty of language, the lilt of grammar and the meaning of text. Beyond all this, when we read to children we are modeling the love of story and language that compels us to learn how to read.
2. Help the child select reading material that matches his or her passions.
Too often we are forcing reading into children’s hands that does not interest them at all. By asking them what interests them, what are they wondering about and what excites them, we can match books to them that truly suit their learning journeys.
3. Match books and reading material to the child’s reading level.
You don’t have to be a teacher to learn how to do this. In the classroom, great teachers have systems and assessments for how to measure children’s reading levels, but even in the home, you can pay close attention to how easy it is for a child to read through a page. If a child stumbles over literally more than one word per sentence, the reading material is too hard. If at the end of a page you ask the child what they just read and they cannot retell it to you, it is most likely this material is too hard. Most children gravitate very naturally towards books at their levels when given the opportunity and when conversation about this is honest and real. For teachers, assessments such as the DRA and Fountas and Pinnel’s systems are very helpful and can help teachers match books to children.
4. Focus on comprehension.
Celebrate the child’s capacity to retell the story or to share insights he’s had as he is reading. Ask him: What about this reading makes you wonder? What kinds of questions come up for you? What in this book relates to your experience? These are all valuable questions to ask the child and prompt a deeper reading of the text than merely sounding out words.
5. Help the child build stamina.
The way I describe stamina is that it’s all about reading “long and strong”. The excellent reader can sustain reading stamina for longer and longer periods of time. Help your children build stamina by setting realistic goals of small increments of time and then building them up.
6. Create time for reading.
This seems simple but truly the lives of children have gotten busier than ever before. Encircle reading time with value by making it sacrosanct: nothing interrupts it.
7. Make reading and writing connections.
I always say reading is like breathing in and writing is like breathing out. Offer fun and exciting ways your children can respond to text through writing, whether on paper or online children have strong feelings about what they read and love to share them.
8. Let reading become lively.
Reading does not have to happen in isolation or in silence. Children love to respond to text with dramatic interpretation, group art projects and collaborative group talk about a book or a poem. Make sure your reading community feels joyous and community spirited.
9. Build a vibrant reading environment.
Make sure you have a wide range of texts available, both fiction AND nonfiction, comics, manuals, blogsites, cereal boxes, you name it, the world is alive with words. Children need to see that reading is far more than just the chapter book (although we love those too!)
10. Be a passionate reader yourself.
Find out what you love as a reader and let your children know about it. You are a great mentor and role model for them. It is of the utmost importance that they see what is important about reading and why you love it. Let your spirit be contagious.
Pam is widely known as a motivational speaker advocating for reading and writing as human rights that belong to all people. Her personal quest to bring literacy to every child stems from a deeper desire to bring dignity to every child, and to empower children to read and write powerfully, effectively and with passion in ways that will change their worlds and the worlds of others. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Oprah Radio, The Huffington Post and in The New York Times.
Pam is the Executive Director and founder of LitWorld, and is also the Executive Director and founder of LitLife, a national organization dedicated to school improvement. She is the author of the acclaimed and award-winning "What To Read When: The Books and Stories To Read With Your Child-And All The Best Times To Read Them" (Penguin Avery). Her most recent book is "Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How To Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives" (Scholastic). Her forthcoming book "Your Child’s Writing Life" (Penguin Avery) will debut in August 2011.
Pam is on the Leadership Council of Global Action for Children, the English Language Arts Scope and Sequence Advisory Group for the New York City Department of Education, and the Advisory Boards of the Dream Charter School in Harlem, the Amherst College Center for Community Engagement, James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead, Penguin Publishing’s We Give Books and the Millennium Cities Initiative Social Sector.