Tips for raising strong readers

There are many excellent books and resources available on the topic of raising strong readers.


There are many excellent books and resources available on the topic of raising strong readers.

One such resource, published in 2014, is Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful, Motivated Readers, by Ph.D. psychologists and educators, Anne E. Cunningham, and Jamie Zibulsky.

This volume is a treasure trove of valuable information for parents and educators interested helping kids get on the path to independent reading.

In addition to benefits like knowledge comprehension, the authors exemplify how reading together can enrich social and emotional development, and spark a passion in oral and written language that can provide pleasure across a lifetime.

The following tips and hints are a few of the many nuggets of information contained in the book

Make reading a shared experience.

Shared reading refers to the practice of reading together with your child, and there are many ways it can take place.

Some shared reading experiences include parent-directed shared reading, where the parent reads the story to the child or child-directed shared reading is where the child reads the story to the parent.

In another shared reading experience the child tells the story based on picture or text clues, or joint reading, where the parent and child take turns reading. Cunningham and Zibulsky point out that when children get to play a more active role in shared reading this has been shown to increase vocabulary development and help children learn to identify letters and words more quickly.

Use specific praise to keep motivation high.

Because shared reading is time spent together, the initial pleasure derived from reading may come simply from spending quality time with you.

Praise and encouragement is highly motivating, and makes shared reading time special and rewarding.

Keep an eye on how much screen time your child is exposed to:

According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), hold off on television viewing and the use of digital media for children under the age of two, and for children over the age of two, limit screen time to less than one to two hours per day.

In their study, the AAP found that for each hour a child under the age of two spent alone in front of a screen, they missed out on close to the same amount of time interacting with parents and/or siblings.

So, one hour spend watching the television, meant about one hour not spent interacting with people, and therefore missing out on enriching learning and language development opportunities.

While technology has some great benefits, including the ability to immediately access materials you want to watch, read, or download, the general rule of thumb is to use technology as a supplement to language and literacy activities, not as a substitute for them.

Caroline Derksen

Williams Lake Librarian