Parents often search for computer programs, workbooks and expensive tutoring centers to help their children love books and learn to read. Fortunately, the answer is much closer to home and much more simple.
There a million different things I could point out here.
For example, simply having books, the real paper kind, in your home can make an enormous difference in the reading level of your child. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress stated that “there exists a positive correlation between the amount of print in the home and independent reading levels. Children with a high interest in books have, on average, 80.6 books in the home while children with low interest in reading have only 31.7 books.” There’s a reason to go straight to your favorite children’s bookstore and add to your home library collection!
Or the fact that reading aloud to your child is the simplest and most effective teaching tool we all have. Marilyn Jager Adams, a guru in the world of reading education, states in her book, Beginning to Read that “Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.“
But for now, I want to focus on book introductions. Last night, the girls and I were getting ready to read a new chapter book, Just Desserts by Hallie Durand.
We had read Durand’s first book, Dessert First, last summer
so we were eager to see what Dessert was up to this time.
Many parents and teachers are hesitant to talk too much about a book before giving it to a child to read or reading it aloud. They are often afraid that they will give away too much, thereby taking away from the learning experience. The opposite is actually true. The more the child knows about what they will read, the richer the experience will be for them.
In their book, Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinell quote another great in the reading world, Marie Clay, who says that book introductions are a “process of drawing the children into the activity before passing control to the children and pushing them gently towards problem solving the whole first reading of the story for themselves.”
We had bought Just Dessert last week and it had sat on our kitchen counter since then. This week we were busy finishing Peggy Gifford’s, Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
so while we had not yet started reading Just Dessert, we had been talking about it. As we glanced at the cover over breakfast we wondered what the tug of war in the picture was all about. We looked at the two girls and tried to decide why they were arguing. We thought back to the first book and laughed at the funny things we remembered from that story. And in doing all of this, I was providing a book introduction without even really knowing I was doing it. It was that simple.
That’s why I was surprised when my daughter said, “Just by you talking a little bit about it, that book looks pretty interesting!”
And there was my proof. Stronger than any research articles or books I could read on the subject of book introductions. The power of a child’s words reminded me of what I already knew. Introduce a book and the child will be engaged.