Step into the Literacy Loop!

This is the second article in a series on the Importance of Reading beginning last week with an article by James Butterfield, English teacher at CIS titled, The Importance of Reading in Education.”

This week, our focus will be on supporting reading at home for Elementary School students. Parents can make powerful contributions to their children’s success in literacy learning (Barone, 2011; Dicinson & Tahors, 2001, Doyle & Zhang, 2011; Paratore, 2007). As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher, and you can influence your child’s reading development and progress. More than 30 years of research tells us that families can make a difference in reading development as part of the literacy loop between school and home. We invite you to step into the literacy loop!

CIS Phnom Penh literacy loop

Create Reading Friendly Spaces at Home

Provide an enjoyable reading experience at home by setting up friendly reading spaces that are in a quiet space with good lighting. Make sure the seating is comfortable. A space with few or no distractions will help your child focus. Find out what your child enjoys reading, and support his or her access to books at home. Set up a library shelf, provide a basket of books or access to online reading sites with a variety of genres in fiction and non-fiction:

Fiction
Autobiography
Sports
Adventure
Science Fiction
Fantasy
Folktales
Fables

Alphabet Books
Fairy Tales
Riddles
Poetry
Humour
Mystery
Biography
Historical

Read Books Together

When you read together, children learn that reading is important and fun! One of the most important aspects of shared reading is reading books interactively. Interactive reading is pausing while reading to have a conversation to think about, talk about, and respond to the text. Readers build meaning through the interplay of the details in the text, their own experiences and their knowledge of how skilled readers think. Engaging your child in shared book reading has the potential to foster deeper interest and engagement in reading, accelerate vocabulary and concept knowledge, build knowledge about print and words, and develop comprehension for younger AND older children from birth to age 14.It’s not only younger children that benefit from shared reading. Older children and teenagers also benefit when parents read books together, providing opportunities to read books of interest that may be a little too difficult to read on their own. 

Some shared reading tips are:

  • Stop to discuss parts of the book, storyline, information or a picture. (see below)
  • Ask your child open ended questions. (see below)
  • Make predictions together and use evidence to confirm, change or modify predictions through the book. “I think this will happen because…”
  • Make personal connections to the book. “This part reminds me of a time when …”
  • Take time after reading to discuss the book. (see below)
  • Model reading fluency using intonation and expression 
  • Read together, take turns reading, or echo read by reading a section first and then having your child read the same section.
  • Talking about your own reading errors can help children understand
    more about themselves as readers and is an eye-opener.
  • Review sections that are confusing.
  • Reread books.
CIS Elementary reading program

Listen to Your Child Read Books

Listening to your child read has positive effects on your child’s reading fluency and comprehension (Toomey, 1993). Fluency is 1) The accuracy or ability to read books aloud without mistakes, 2) The rate of reading aloud not too fast or slow, and 3) The expression and intonation to make oral reading sound like authentic oral speech (how we normally speak). Comprehension is understanding and making meaning of what is read.

Some listening to reading tips are:

  • Stop to discuss parts of the book, storyline, information or a picture. (see below)
  • Ask your child open ended questions. (see below)
  • Ask your child to make a prediction using evidence to confirm, change or modify predictions through the book. “I think this will happen because…”
  • Make personal connections to the book. “This part reminds me of a time when …”
  • Take time after reading to discuss the book. (see below)
  • Reread books for improved fluency and comprehension
  • When a word is misread, ask your child to “check it” by looking at all the letters in the word from the beginning to the ending, look at the syllables or parts of a word, and reread the word to see if the word makes sense and is a real word, and reread the sentence from the beginning.

Conversations to Support Literacy

Ask your child about what they are reading. Be sure to have conversations before, during and after reading:

  • What is the story about?
  • Who are the important characters in the story and what do you know about them?
  • Where does your story take place?
  • Why do you think the character made that choice? What happened in the book to make you think that?
  • Why did that happen?
  • How did you know about…?
  • What is the main idea or message of this book?
  • What helped you read and understand your book?
  • What got in the way of your reading and understanding your book?

Additional Tips:

  • Demonstrate your love for reading to your child by reading in front of them.
  • Encourage reading at home, especially for children who can read on their own already to build and retain literacy skills. 
  • Talk about books, share ideas and recommendations with your child. 
  • Have a book talk with your child’s teacher.

A multitude of research provides evidence that children who read at least 20 minutes each night accelerate reading growth. The long term effects of daily reading outside of school for a minimum of 20 minutes are children who read better, know more, write better, have a better vocabulary, and are more successful in school. Step into the Literacy Loop by providing enjoyable reading experiences at home with interactions and conversations!

Julie Gibson is a Grade 2 teacher with a special interest in literacy, at The Canadian International School of Phnom Penh.

Reading Resources for Parents:

Reading Rockets

ReadWriteThink