By Meg Heron-Blake
Getting students to pick up books during summer can be a challenging task, particularly when reading is difficult. Here are some suggestions to help make reading a less formidable task for your student.
- Select a handful of books for your child to choose from. The choices at a library or bookstore can often be overwhelming, and children are likely to choose books that are at a frustration reading level. Use your school or reference librarian for suggestions, or online review services such as Amazon.com.
- Make sure that the reading level is correct for your child. In order to read the book independently, a student should be able to read it with 95% accuracy. If a student is reading less than 90% of the words correct, he will likely be frustrated by it. A quick and easy way to get a sense of your child's ability to read a book is called the "five finger rule". Have your child read a page of a book putting down a finger for each word he has difficulty decoding. If he puts down five fingers, the book may be too difficult.
- Read the book with your child. For younger students, that might mean reading the book with them, taking turns reading aloud. For older children, obtain two copies of the book and have the child select the number of pages to be read each day/week before you discuss the book together. Ask your child to formulate some comprehension questions to check your comprehension. The child can place post-its on every other page on which he can write his questions.
- Encourage all types of reading. Even comic books can provide good opportunities for practice decoding, while giving a child a sense of accomplishment for finishing a book. Books on tape can enrich a child's language skills, and thus facilitate advances in reading skills. Most libraries have a books on tape section and thousands of titles can be obtained through using the interlibrary loan systems. Requests for interlibrary loan can be done online. Books on tape are a great for a family to pass the time on a road trip.
- Read yourself. One of the best predictors of whether a child will be an avocational reader is the amount of reading done by the parents. While newspaper and magazine reading is a start, if you want your child to read books, he should see you enjoying books. Even during the summer, maintain a schedule similar to the child's homework schedule in which there is a quiet time in which the whole family is reading.
- If your child loves computer games, choose those that offer significant practice in reading. One such program is Midnight Rescue by The Learning Company. In this game, students have to obtain clues through answering reading comprehension questions in order to solve a mystery.
- Surround your child with reading material, leaving books and magazines in every room of the house. Make going to the library or used book stores a regular outing.
- Encourage your child to write letters, journals, lists, etc. The connection between reading and writing is such that progress in one area will generally translate to progress in the other.