Children Who Love to Read
Sitting on the couch, four-year-old Bryan was absorbed in his picture book. Suddenly he ran to his father, book in hand, and asked thoughtfully, "How do you do those words?" "What words, Bryan?" his father asked. "You know, the ones you read me in my books!" Bryan had just jumped headlong into the process of discovery that would lead him to reading.
Parents are often confronted with ads for computer software, videos, and workbooks suggesting that certain "pre-reading" activities are necessary in order for children to become good readers. However, real reading readiness is accomplished quite simply; through exposure to language and print in all their forms.
Think of reading as a process that is learned just like speaking. When babies babble and coo, we don't call them "pre-speakers," or require them to master specific pre-speaking skills. Quite the contrary, as soon as we hear something that sounds like a real word, we offer encouragement and praise, asserting that, "She's talking!"
If workbooks are not useful activities for reading readiness, how then are parents to help with the reading process? First, find encouragement in the knowledge that today many schools are trying to imitate what you as parents do by reading their favorite stories to students over and over, using big books (marketed as "Big Books") with large print so that the class can see the words being read to them. The aim is for children to come to recognize the words of the story, just as they often do while sitting in your lap hearing a favorite book.
Just by reading to your child you're taking the single most important step toward instilling in her a love of reading. And by all means, reread that story for the thousandth time if your child requests it. There's something in that book that she needs to hear again and again.
How parents can help preschoolers in the reading process
Copyright Betty Farber 1997. All rights reserved.
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