“What makes a good reader?” Many things. However, if I were to pick only two concepts to help your child become a good reader, it would be to make a home library, and to buy an alphabet chart. Both will help pave the way for strong pre-reading skills. Once your child obtains a few basic pre-reading skills, you will be amazed at how quickly he starts to recognize print and starts to read.
One of the most important things to have is a home library. This can be an area anywhere in your home, and it does not have to be very big. It should contain age appropriate book selections for your child. An age appropriate book depends on your child’s reading ability. If you child is a non-reader, choose short, simple books with repetitive words. If your child is a beginner reader, add books that are easy for your child to read. Also include a few “challenge” books for you to read to your child. For a non-reader, a challenge book would be a book he would eventually be able to read. For a beginner reader, a challenge book would be a small chapter book. Aim to read to or with your child 15 minutes a day, four or five times a week.
THE PRE- READER
One of the best things you can do for your child is to hang an Steigercentrum trapsteiger alphabet chart in a spot where they will see it every day. Some charts have just the alphabet letters on them, and some charts have a corresponding picture for each letter. It doesn’t matter which chart you choose. Use this chart to point to each letter as you sing the A-B-C’s. This helps your child develop a visual for the letter they are saying. Once your child recognizes most of the letters, start using this chart to teach phonic sounds. Skip over the vowels (a,e,i,o,u) for now – these are the most confusing. As you point to the letter, say the letter name, and then the sound. Say this several times, having your child repeat after you. Only practice a few letters a day, and start with a sound you practiced the day before. Children learn best from repetition and small doses of information at a time.
Once your child is able to recognize some sounds the letters make, you can make a game out of it. Choose items around the house, say the item, the letter it starts with, and the sound. For example, if you choose a ball, you will say “ball” “B” “Bu”. One of the most favorite sound games for all children is their name! Write their name in capital letters, and hang it by the alphabet chart. Every day, say the beginning letter and the child’s name.
THE BEGINNING READER
There are two stages of being a Beginner Reader. There is the beginning stage, and the actual reading stage. Both stages are very important for building confidence in your Beginner Reader.
The Beginning Stage:
The beginning stage is when your child is recognizing words by sight. She may also be saying the first sounds of the words. This is a great start! To encourage the reading skills to develop, pick a good beginner reader book. The book should have a few words on each page, and the words should repeat from page to page. At home, I always like to start with the “Dick and Jane Series”.
The Dick and Jane series start off with the words “Dick”, “oh”, and “look” in the first chapter. The print is large and easy to read, and the pictures are colorful. The words repeat several times. The second chapter adds the words “Jane”, “see”, and “funny”. Each chapter builds upon words learned in the previous chapter.
When you sit down to read this book with your child, remember to do three things:
Keep the reading sessions short. This is supposed to be FUN, and you don’t want to discourage your Beginner Reader.
Always start with the previous read chapter. This is a great way to review the vocabulary your child learned during the last reading session.
Have your child point to each word as he reads it. This helps with sight recognition of the word.
(Important: Yes, it is vital for child to learn phonics (the sounds letters and letter blends make), but our English language contains site words; words that you need to know by looking at them).
Beginning to read is as simple as recognizing the word “STOP” on the stop sign. Or it could be when your child says “That says Wal-Mart!”. When this starts to happen, you know your child is ready for the next step. Another sign that your child is ready to read is when she “reads” a book… you know it is memorized (because you read it to them so many times!!), but she turns the pages at the correct times, and can pick out a few words.
The Actual Reading Stage:
How do you know when your child is actually reading? Because his eyes stay on the words as they are saying them. He looks at the pictures for cues. He stops to sound out the letters and the word chunks. Now you have a reader! Encourage her reading and help grow this new talent by allowing her child to read to you every day. Just five to ten minutes is all you need. Keep in mind, your child will read very slowly. Just encourage the fact that she is reading!
Pick a book from the “I Can Read” series, the “We Can Read” series, or the “Step In to Reading” series. These books start at level 1, and go up to usually a level 4 or 5. Have several Level 1 books on hand. When you child is able to easily read this, move up to level 2. Find a comfy spot, and have your child point to each word as he reads. If he stops at a word for more than 3 seconds, say the word for her. If it is not a site word, show her how to sound it out. This helps to reduce frustration in your new reader.
Remember, this learning experience should be fun for your child. If your child becomes frustrated, simply stop and switch to playing something else. Be creative, and think of different ways to add print and phonic sounds to your child’s day. Before you know it, your child will be reading simple words and books.
This is a great list to start your home library. You do not have to buy just the list of books I have listed. Good beginner books have repetition and rhyming. The point is to have fun and to read to your child.
Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown
Ten Little Animals by Laura Coats
Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crokett Johnson
Crictor by Tomi Ungerer
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
George Shrinks by William Joyce
Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig
any Dr Suess book
any Eric Carle book
a counting book
an alphabet book
Once your child has started to read, he/she is considered a Beginner Reader. Beginning to read is very exciting for both you and your child! The best way to find books for a beginner reader is to pick books from the “I Can Read” series, the “We Can Read” series, or the “Step Into Reading” series. These books start at level 1, and go up to usually a level 4 or 5. Your local children’s librarian will give you suggestions for books that are at your child’s reading level.
Site words are words found in the English language that a reader can not sound out; they need to know them by site. The top ten Fry site words are:
If you would like more information on site words, a complete list can be found here: