Reading matters! And as parents we are our children’s first teachers.
Most of us remember fondly the experience of either cuddling with a parent, or a child, in a rocking chair or at bedtime, reading stories that transport us into other worlds without ever leaving the comfort of our homes. But the reading process, the ability to learn to read, isn’t acquired in an instant. It happens over the course of several cognitive learning stages.
Pre-readers like to look at books and be read to. They emulate reading, by holding books and pretending to read them. Children learn about words from songs, rhymes, signs and packages. This ultimately leads to an understanding that their own thoughts can be put into print and that they can use pictures and memory to retell a story.
Emerging readers begin to match words in print with spoken words and to understand the relationship between sounds and letters. They experiment with reading and saying words aloud when reading simple texts. They use pictures to help them understand the text and discover that the words on the page tell a story consistent with the illustrations or photographs.
Early readers develop more confidence and use combinations of reading strategies, e.g., visual cues to identify words; memorization and recognition of words on sight.
Giving a child the gift of reading takes patience and a sense of humor. A joke book fits uniquely into this process. In the Laugh-A-Long Readers series, the illustration of each joke provides context clues for the emerging reader, which helps him or her connect the pictures to the words. A child will remember a joke more easily than any other line of text, simply because it makes him or her laugh. Memorizing the joke translates into sight-recognition of the words on the page — and voila! Within minutes, a child is “reading” the joke to someone else! Books like the Laugh-a-Long Readers provide pre-readers and emerging readers with a sense of success, helping to develop a love of and excitement about reading that motivates them to want to read more. It paves the way to success in school, which can build self-confidence and motivate a child to set high expectations for life.
Laughter is not only chicken soup for the soul, but a powerful tool for teaching reading — and one that we should embrace as often as we can!
Diane Namm is a children’s book author of over 65 titles with 10 new books due out in 2012/13. A dedicated advocate of literacy, Namm is the founder and Executive Artistic Director of West of Broadway WestOfBroadway.org, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, and a grant recipient of the LA County Performing Arts Council. Namm and West of Broadway are dedicated to promoting literacy and social and civic responsibility through stage.
Namm is an award-winning writer-director-producer for stage and film. Her production company, Lady of the Canyon, LLC is currently in development on a number of multi-media projects. Recent film projects include FINDING HOPE, THE SACRIFICE, TELEMAFIA, GREAT AMERICAN PIGEON RACE, WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE DINGLE and SASA.
Namm was honored by Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California in 2008 for producing and directing their PSA. She has served as a writing mentor for CREATE NOW, developing writing workshops for at-risk youth in juvenile detention centers, rehab centers and group homes. She is on the Advisory Boards for the University of Michigan/English Department; HART-US; Board of Directors of the Malibu Playhouse; a past Artist-in-Residence at the Pasadena Playhouse, and a member of AFI, Women in Film, Authors Guild and National Women in the Arts.