Little Log Cottage School

5 Steps For Successful Reading

reading strategy collage resize

During my journey as an educator, I’ve often tutored children for reading.  Many students are labeled as poor readers if they’re not meeting the standards of state tests.  This can be alarming to us as parents if we’re led to believe our child is not meeting expectations.  The fear in public school is children will just keep getting further and further behind as the year progresses.  Homeschooling parents feel inadequate in their teaching ability to meet the needs of their struggling reader.   But don’t worry.  Students progress in reading at their own pace, and there’s no need to rush it no matter what the state says.  Modeling how successful readers think and act will provide your child with opportunities to read each day.  So get ready to curl up with your little ones with a good book, because this sets the stage for successful reading.

STEP 1:  Find out what kind of books interest your children.  Paying attention to the type of books your child likes to read will help successful reading.  Here’s a great post I found on this subject by the Nerdy Book Club.  This is also a time to check which books are on their level.  I often have my second grader read the first page of a book to see if it is too hard, too easy, or just right.

The first day of school I allow children to fill up their own tub with books they choose from our classroom library.  Some of the books I get at the library and some of them are my own.

individualized reading tubs

STEP 2:  Build background and vocabulary  Good readers are constantly making connections with their own lives.  When we help children recall  what they already know, we are teaching them a critical comprehension skill that good readers unconsciously use every time they read.

I always ask the student what they know about the book we are getting ready to read.  If it’s a book about a bat, I list everything the child knows about bats.  “What do you think this book is going to be about?”  “What genre is the book?”

When I’m doing a guided reading lesson with children, I pick out 2-4 words from the story I assume they don’t know.  Before we start reading we define the word and then complete a vocabulary map together.  We write a synonym for the word, write it in a sentence, and draw a picture.

vocabulary map

STEP 3: Guide the reading.  During guided reading we read and stop to discuss the connections we are making.  The student begins by reading aloud and I help out with words when necessary.   After reading a few pages we stop and I model what I’m thinking as we’re reading the book.  Sometimes we pause in the book and I’ll have the student draw a picture of the setting, characters, and problem in the story. lin writing

STEP 4: WORD WORK  Word work is something new to me.  Thanks to Becky, at This Reading Mama, I’ve come to see the need for this type of study to happen for successful readers.  This type of study is more spelling based which moves away from memorizing the way a word is spelled.  It helps students to recognize patterns in words which in turn helps them to decode words.

A way to begin implementing this study is to first assess your child.  I begin by giving a child an informal spelling test beginning with simple CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) and then moving into vowel patterns.  A great assessment tool can be found here.  For more information on word study see my post here.

STEP 5:  Read Aloud To Your Kids  The U.S. Department of Education Commission found the most powerful way for building background and improving reading success in children is to read aloud to them.  Children who are read to are usually the best readers in the class with the biggest vocabulary.

reading 1

Lucy Calkins, noted author and educator says, “read-aloud is the time to go under the “spell” of a beautiful book and laugh, cry, and get lost in the flow of the story and the language.”  Reading aloud to students models fluent reading and creates a desire to be a reader.  Children can understand language on a higher level when they are being read to which exposes less competent readers with rich literature.  This way they are getting the same benefits that more capable readers can experience on their own.

An example of this would be my 8 year old who wasn’t a fluent reader.  I knew practicing reading would be one of the best ways to practice fluency.  Since she knew she wasn’t a great reader she automatically didn’t like reading.  I wanted to hook her into reading by providing interesting stories, but knew she wouldn’t be able to read them herself.  After many attempts to find the “magic” book I finally pulled out my all time favorite children series: Trixie Belden.  I made a point to read 1-2 chapters a night to her.  Guess what; it worked!  The read alouds inspired her to find books she could read on her own but also interested her.  She discovered she loved to read mysteries!  Now I don’t have to tell her to read and she has become a more fluent reader, writer, and speller because she has developed an interest in reading on her own.

I hope this post has been helpful to you.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, or comments.  Happy Summer!