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Developing Reading Skills in August

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It’s hard to believe that July is over—where did the summer go?? After six weeks of fun activities and lively discussions, our summer book clubbers packed up their bookmarks and headed out for their August vacations. When school starts in the fall, they’ll have a toolbox of new strategies for determining character traits, visualizing settings, and identifying the problem and possible solutions in their stories. The next time they’re asked to summarize a story, they can take out the colorful comic strip they created in book club this summer as a reminder for how to visualize the main events.

Book clubs are great ways to develop reading skills, but there are also plenty of ways to practice reading comprehension and fluency with your child:

Buddy Reading:  Take turns reading with your child, alternating each page.  This will help your child to hear a fluent reader and to practice his or her fluency as well.  Additionally, this type of reading provides you with an opportunity to discuss the book by asking questions such as: What was the most important event in this chapter or section? Why do you think the character said or did that?  What do you think will happen next?  What would you do if you were in this situation?

Reader’s Theater:  Create a play using an interesting scene in the book.  Each reader can read the dialogue of a different character, practicing reading with expression and fluency.  It’s even more fun when each person has to read the parts of multiple characters, creating different voices and speaking styles!  This allows students to read the same text multiple times (in order to practice their parts) and practice reading aloud and with meaningful expression. This type of reading will also help to deepen comprehension, as the reader thinks about the feeling and actions of the character to use the appropriate expression while reading.

Listen to Reading:  Have your child listen to an audio version of a book while following along with a print version.  Listening to a book can be a nice change for children who struggle with reading.  This allows them to hear expressive and fluent reading while also exposes them to new and interesting vocabulary.  Following along with a text is key to ensure engagement and comprehension.  Readers can underline interesting vocabulary or important events while listening.

When your child is reading on his own, it is important that he chooses a book that is “just right.” Reading a book that is too hard can be frustrating for children and can perpetuate the feeling of “reading is too hard.”  To determine if a book is “just right” have your child pick a book that seems interesting to him.

Then, ask the following questions:

  1. Ask your child to read the second page in the book aloud.
  2. Have him hold up 5 fingers and each time he comes to a word that he must sound out or that he does not know, he should put a finger down.
  3. At the end of the page, if all 5 fingers are down, then the book is too difficult for this reader.
  4. If 3 or 4 fingers are down, then ask your child to read the next page or two.
  5. Then, check for comprehension by asking him to summarize what he read.

Whether alone, out loud or listening to a digital version, the most important thing to remember is that children improve their reading skills by spending time reading appropriate books.  This is the number one factor in improving fluency, expression and comprehension!


smortoDeveloping Reading Skills in August

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