Advice and strategies to help your children read...

JUST FOR PARENTS

September 03, 2000

Advice and strategies to help your children read

Building literacy in preschoolers

Just because kids are saying goodbye to summer and going back to school doesn't mean there aren't ways parents can continue to pave the way toward a lifetime of reading. Constant verbal exposure is an effective means of preparing your child. A new reading series, "The Joy of Literacy," is one way to introduce young children (preschoolers) to the pleasures of reading. It is based upon the principle of phonemic awareness, or the understanding that speech can be broken down into discrete units called phonemes or sounds, which are in turn represented by letters. This is known as the alphabetic principle.

This delightful series promotes the development of letter names and sounds, high frequency words and reading comprehension through a playful selection of stories told in rhyme. The materials are organized into 26 engaging themes (one for each letter of the alphabet), and each book links familiar pictures to text. The use of alliteration, such as Ashley Apple for the letter A, utilizes sound repetition. Written by Joy Ballenger, the books come out of her research about how children learn as well as 20 years of teaching experience to create these practical and motivating materials. Whimsical illustrations by John Bianchi compliments her text. Because the words in the stories are those children see on a regular basis, they begin to feel like real readers right away.

To assist children in learning the new words there are three things to keep in mind:

* the meaning of the story

* the way in which the sentence is written (structure of language)

* how the word looks (visual configuration)

Read more about this series at www.readingmatters.net. A "Joy of Literacy at Home" packet includes the 26 storybooks, an Alphabet Poster, an Alphabet Card Deck and Parent Resource Guide, available for $124.95 from Reading Matters, 888-255-6665.

-- Susan Rapp, Village Reading Center

Learning to read with one's ears

"The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease gives parents a handle on keeping kids captivated by the power of the spoken word. His web site, Trelease-on-Reading (www. trerelease-on- reading.com) includes excerpts of the handbook and his other books.

* During repeat readings of a predictable book, occasionally stop at one of the key words or phrases and allow the listener to provide the word.

* Allow time for discussion after reading a story. Thoughts, hopes, fears and discoveries are aroused by a book. Allow them to surface and help the child to deal with them through verbal, written or artistic expression if the child is so inclined. Do not turn discussions into quizzes or insist upon prying story interpretations from the child.

* Reluctant readers or unusually active children frequently find it difficult to just sit and listen. Paper, crayons, and pencils allow them to keep their hands busy while listening.

* Don't be fooled by awards. Just because a book was given an award does not guarantee that it will make a good read-aloud. In most cases, a book award is given for the quality of the writing, not for its read-aloud qualities.

-- Rasmi Simhan

On Wednesdays: The Just for Kids section with read-aloud story, puzzles and poster

New York Times Best Sellers: Hardcover children's books

1. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," by J.K. Rowling. (weeks on list: 7)

2. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," by J.K. Rowling. (50)

3. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," by J.K. Rowling. (89)

4. "Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets," by J.K. Rowling. (64)

5. "Backstreet Boys: The Official Book," by Andre Csillag with the Backstreet Boys. (7)

6. "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss. (185)

7. "Wemberly Worried!" by Kevin Henkes. (4)

8. "Bud, not Buddy," by Christopher Paul Curtis. (8)

9. "The Bad Beginning," by Lemony Snicket. (6)

10. "The Little Prince," written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. (7)

11. "Eloise's Guide to Life," by Kay Thompson. Illustrated by Hilary Knight. (6)

12. "Olympic Summer Games 2000," by Meredith Costain. (3)

13. "Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty," by Bobbi Brown and Annemarie Iverson. (5)

14. "Emily's First 100 Days of School," by Rosemary Wells. (1)

15. "The Austere Academy," by Lemony Snicket. (1)

16. "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," written and illustrated by Simms Taback. (5)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@ baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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