by Jennifer Myers, 2nd Grade Teacher, St. John’s Episcopal School, Olney, Maryland
“Drake pushed open the big stone door. He felt afraid. But more than that, he was curious. He pushed it open and saw the face of a giant, red dragon! Drake blinked. He didn’t believe his eyes. Then — Woosh! — the dragon shot a huge fireball from his mouth!” (Dragon Masters; Rise of the Earth Dragon by, Tracey West). Capturing the imagination of early readers is pivotal in their learning adventure and reading aloud to your child is one of the most important pieces of early reading. Young minds are adept at creating visual representations when they are read aloud to. Set the characters apart by using different voices or intonation. By doing this you show the emotion and further develop the characters in the passages.
Allow your child to “book shop” with you to grow their personal library. Do not discourage the selection of books; let them browse freely in the age appropriate sections. Read aloud to your child every day. One way to do this is incorporating 20 minutes of reading time into their bedtime routine. Role modeling reading for your child is just as important as capturing their attention. Read to them at first and over time take turns reading aloud together one page at a time. When they become more confident readers, hand them the reigns!
Time and patience in supporting your child academically is another crucial point to raising a child who loves to read. When your child comes to a hard word, ask them to first sound it out as best they can. Breaking compound words into smaller words is very helpful. I often find that early readers like to use a “reader” or visual tool to help them track when they read. Long legos, mini fly swatters, fancy bookmarks, mini flashlights, and feathers are all engaging tools that motivate them to read. Help them out when needed, explain why the letters sound the way they do, for example, a silent “e” at the end of a word forces the vowel in the middle to say its name. Take the word “cake” for instance; the “e” on the end bosses around the letter “a” in the middle to say its name when sounding it out. This “e” is often referred to in schools as the “magic e” or the “bossy e”.
The best thing you can do for your child is to role model reading and show them that reading is important in your home. Let them see you reading, whether it’s the newspaper, a book, a magazine, a cookbook, or an e-reader. Set aside quiet time; a spot where everyone can read alone but in the same room (this works great on weekends). Incorporate reading together into your bedtime routine. Allow them to bring along a book instead of gaming devices when heading out and about in the car. Start listening to your child read. Are they using intonation? Ask them questions about the book. Do they understand what they read? Engage them in questions to think about what will happen next. Ask, “I wonder what Drake will do when he feels the heat from the dragon’s fireball?” You are your child’s advocate and their biggest supporter for learning. Be the fireball that lights their excitement for reading!