The background of language


Advice and strategies to help your children read

March 18, 2001

Researchers estimate that as many as 40 percent of all children tested in fourth grade read below grade level and have had difficulty learning to read. As a result, many states, including Maryland, are responding to suggestions for stronger standards for teacher certification and more course work involving research-based methods in the teaching of reading. The book "Speech to Print" by Louisa Cook Moats emphasizes the importance of having a background in language to teach reading to children.

As adults, we take reading for granted. It is difficult to remember how we learned to read, just as we may not remember how we learned to walk. Unless we are teaching or studying language, very few of us can explain its rules. For example: Why do we double the "s" in words like misspell? Why is there a silent e at the end of love?

"Speech to Print" provides answers to these questions as well as exercises and self-tests so teachers can assess their knowledge of language structure. The information also helps parents understand the mistakes children make and why, so they can be knowledgeable participants in their child's education.

The book's main features:

Provides readers with an excellent source for understanding the structure of the English language.

Helps parents gain insight into their child's written language.

Explains the concepts of phonemic awareness, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension with examples and lesson plans.

Provides teachers with methods for increasing literacy by explaining the building blocks of language.

Parents, teachers, tutors and other professionals can learn the latest information at the spring conference of the Maryland branch of the International Dyslexia Association from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 31 at the Holiday Inn Select in Timonium. For registration and other information, call 410-825-2881.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Cheering on your team at home

March Madness usually means that the grown-ups in the house uncork all the adrenaline from younger days to cheer for their favorite teams to make it to the Final Four.

B-ball fans like these are often cultivated at a young age by parents who love the sport. Here are some books that are sure to become slam-dunk faves with your kids:

"Salt in His Shoes" by Deloris Jordan et al. Before Michael Jordan led the University of North Carolina to an NCAA championship in his freshman year, before everyone wanted to be like Mike, he was a small child intent on making it to the big time. His mother and sister recapture the drive that made him one of the most extraordinary players in the game.

"Teresa Witherspoon's Basketball for Girls" by Teresa Witherspoon et al. Former Olympian and current star of the WNBA's New York Liberty, Witherspoon passes on her positive outlook and solid techniques to younger generations.

"My Basketball Book" by Gail Gibbons. Learn the basics of the sport with this lively picture book.

"Allie's Basketball Team" by Barbara E. Barber. A young girl can't be convinced that basketball is a boys-only sport.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Children's

Picture Books Best Sellers

1. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum (weeks on list: 18)

2. "Easter Bugs" by David A. Carter (2)

3. "Olivia" by Ian Falconer (23)

4. "So You Want To Be President?" by Judith St. George (10)

5. "Alligator Tales" by Miles Smeeton (2)

6. "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss (192)

7. "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest L. Thayer (2)

8. "The Quiltmaker's Gift" by Jeff Brumbeau (19)

9. "Where Do Balloons Go?" by Jamie Lee Curtis (26)

10. "Stranger in the Woods" by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick (12)

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, 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; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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