How to Encourage Your Early Reader
Sometimes, the early stages of learning how to read can seem like drudgery. Each child is different, and some enjoy building literacy skills, while some struggle. Many emergent readers have grasped the basic building blocks of reading but have not yet achieved ease and competence. How can you as the parent provide encouragement and motivation for your child to continue to build her reading skills?

Involve your child in choosing books.

Go to the library together and look through the early readers section. These books are often grouped together separately from other children’s books; ask a librarian if you’re not sure where they are. 

Assess readability.

It’s important to make sure that your child can read at least 90% of the words already; educators Lori Rog and Paul Kropp point out that, “Effective materials for struggling readers have their own textual integrity: realistic characters, readable and convincing text, and a deep sense of the readers' interests and needs.”

Scholastic suggests the Five-Finger Rule to determine the accessibility of a potential reader. On a single page, how many of the words can your child read?

  • 0-1 unknown words = book is too easy
  • 2-3 unknown words = book is just right
  • 4-5 unknown words = book is too difficult

Another option is the Goldilocks Strategy, which helps students decide if a book is too easy, too hard, or just right by asking them specific questions.

  • For a book that’s too easy, you can ask, “Have you read it lots of times before?” or, “Can you read it smoothly?”
  • For a book that’s too hard, you might ask your child, “Are there more than five words on a page you don’t know?” or, “Are you confused about what is happening in most of this book?
  • For a “just right” book, “Are there just a few words on a page you don’t know?” (For more examples of questions, see the original article.)

Let them read alone.

If your child wants to read by himself, encourage that and let him figure it out on his own.

Listen to them read aloud.

Prioritize confidence over correction. You don’t have to correct every small mistake; it’s more important that your child enjoys reading aloud and feels competent. Over time, you can identify repetitive patterns of mistakes and gently correct them little by little.

Don’t stop reading to them.

Even older kids enjoy being read to. It helps them appreciate the written word and literature, and it sets an example of literacy and helps them with their vocabulary. It gives your child a good association with reading, and is a great way to spend time together.

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