As a kindergarten teacher, and now as a parent of an early reader, I was/am often asked what is the best and/or most effective way to teach a child to read. My answer was and is always the same read! I wrote a weekly newsletter to my parents telling them what we did that week and what we would be doing in the week(s) ahead. I always gave a list of suggested read alouds and signed every newsletter: "Remember to read, read and read some more.
My boys love to read and be read to. If you check out my project 365 on the weekends, you often see the boys reading alone or together. Children who are read to on a regular basis develop the book skills necessary to learn to read independently. They also need to have book handling skills first. As adults we often assume that children know the front and back of a book, to follow the story from left to right, where to start and top reading the text, how to turn the pages and many other book skills. But, every year I had a child in my class who just didn't have enough book exposure to know all these skills.
Children need to be allowed to explore books at a young age. I began reading to my boys shortly after the came home from the hospital. They each had a basket of board books in reach before they could even crawl. They each have a bookshelf full of books as well as my bookshelf which is packed with kiddie lit.
You will often see Colby making up his own version of a book. When he does that you will hear him quoting text from the book and usually on the correct page. Why can he do this? We've read the book over and over. This is important too. This is how children begin reading. They memorize text and then begin to realize that those printed words on the page match what they are saying. They learn to follow the pictures for the story, and then later learn to follow the printed word, and eventually learn to read the printed word.
Each child learns to read differently. Some will need to focus on hardcore phonics (the ability to sound out each letter to make a word), some will develop strong site word vocabularies (seeing words that they know by sight and never have to sound out). It is when children can put both of these skills together in one package they they truly learn to read.
So what can you do to help your child learn to read?
Read To Me
by Jane Yolen
Read to me riddles and read to me rhymes,
Read to me stories of magical times.
Read to me tales about castles and kings.
Read to me stories of fabulous things.
Read to me pirates and read to me knights,
Read to me dragons and dragon-book fights.
Read to me spaceships and cowboys and then,
When you are finished — please read them again.
Find a good book and read it with your child today, read it tomorrow and read it again and again. They will thank you for it!