Adults can make the difference in encouraging a lifelong reader


Advice and strategies to help your children read

March 03, 2002|By Susan Rapp | Susan Rapp,Special to the Sun

Editor's Note: This is the final installment of Just for Parents. The feature has been part of the Sun's 5-year campaign to fully examine and encourage reading by youngsters. The campaign began in 1997.

When the "Reading by 9" project was initiated by the Sun five years ago, there was a great deal of controversy in the field of education about the best ways to teach children to read.

Learning to read is a journey beginning with identifying letters and words, leading to the interpretation and appreciation of print. It is interesting to see how much has come to light in the field of education about this complex process. Fueled by the argument over whether to use a whole language or phonics approach, recent scientific research has generated substantial data.

It is still unlikely that a consensus will be reached about the "best approach," but there is certainly a great deal more insight into the topic today. For instance, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) some 38 percent of fourth-graders in America cannot read at the basic level of proficiency. We now know that there are effective methods for helping children learn to read, and we know that we can improve the proficiency and fluency of those children who are already reading.

The National Reading Panel cites the importance of explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension strategies.

What also became apparent from all of this research is that family members and caregivers play an important and essential role in developing their child's literacy. You are partners in your child's education -- you know your child better than anyone else.

My goal in this column has been to present ideas and information to encourage you to continue all the wonderful steps you are taking with your child on the path toward literacy. It has been a joy for me to write about reading in a variety of ways, and it is my hope that that families will share in wonderful reading adventures together.

Reading aloud for 30 minutes five days a week will help your child develop the attitude that reading is fun and easy. The time you spend reading to your child right now is a memory that will be cherished; for not only do we want children to learn to read, we also want them to learn to love reading and become life-long readers.


Here are some of my favorite books and Web sites for your reference:

* Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read, by Bernice Cullinan

* How to Make Your Child a Reader for Life, by Paul Kropp

* Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print, by Marilyn Jager Adam

Children's Book Council --

International Dyslexia Association -- www.interdys. org.

International Reading Association -- / choices / .

Learning Disabilities Association--

New York Times Best Sellers List: Children's Paperback Books

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by George Beard (weeks on list: 2)

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (23)

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (76)

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (119)

5. Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger (15)

6. Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey (26)

7. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot Vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars by Dav Pilkey (2)

8. Now You See Him, Now You Don't by Megan Stine (1)

9. Bob's Egg Hunt by Annie Auerbach (1)

10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (38)

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