Parents and caregivers can guide children to want to learn how to read even before formal instruction begins. One of the easiest ways to prepare them for reading success is to read to them regularly at home. You will undoubtedly develop your own special mechanisms for reading to your children, but you may want to keep in mind some of these tried and true tips.
* Stop reading to your child when he can read independently.
* Rush the read-aloud experience. Begin it when you know you will have enough uninterrupted time for you both to enjoy it.
* Continue reading if your child gets bored, tired or cranky.
* Force your child to sit still. Some children need to move around. Allow your child to act out a part of the story or draw what is happening while you read.
* Try to establish a regular family reading time, in a relaxed atmosphere with no distractions. Having your child sit on your lap allows her to view the print in the same way that you do.
* Give your child opportunities to choose the book or story she wants to hear -- even if it's been read many times before.
* Show animation, excitement and enthusiasm. Change your voice, wear a funny hat, speak faster or slower, and HAVE FUN!
* Stop once in a while. Stop and ask your child to predict the outcome, "What do you think will happeen next?"
* Put your finger under certain words to show what is happening and to help your child make the connection between those black marks on the page and specific words.
* Relate what is happening in the stories to events in real life as much as possible. This will help your child's comprehension.
* Add drama. Blow a trumpet or ring a bell to announce the start of read-aloud time. Or cover the book with a beautiful cloth to be "unveiled" at read-aloud time to build anticipation and excitement.
* Keep read-aloud sessions reasonable lengths of time for your child's age and attention span. Help your child create a personal bookmark to place in books when you have to come back to finish the story another time.
-- Susan Rapp, director of the Village Reading Center
Pub Date: 05/19/99