My oldest started second grade this fall and with this change came more homework. Caroline is awfully tired at the end of the day and while she is an excellent student, doing homework is not high on her list. Each night she must do one sheet of math problems and a word study activity. Following this work, she must read for 20 minutes and record her time on a log. Part of the time she is to read out loud to a grown up before reading silently to herself for the remainder of the 20 minutes. Caroline has always loved books, being read to and reading herself. As she has become a confident reader, I do not ask her to read aloud very often.
The other night, I was reminded of why oral reading is still an important part of the reader’s diet long after the child becomes fluent. Caroline was clearly exhausted and barely hearing her own words as she pronounced the word ‘doubt’ as do-butt. Katherine, my younger daughter, had been playing on the floor near us but not obviously listening to the story. Until she heard the word ‘do butt.’ “Do butt, do butt!”, she screamed over and over again. After we stopped our hysterical laughing, I was able to tell Caroline how to accurately pronounce the word. In addition, I pointed to her that the sentence, after all, had not made sense. A mini comprehension lesson arose from our great laughter.
Without the benefit of reading aloud, Caroline would have skimmed right past that word and in her tiredness, perhaps not double checked for meaning. By reading aloud for 5 minutes, she learned not only a new sight word (because after all, how do you sound out ‘doubt’), but an important reading comprehension strategy as well.
This experience was an important reminder to fill out our reader’s diets with read alouds, independent silent reading and oral reading. Each offers a wealth of value to a growing reader.