Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Can We Support Emergent Readers?

How can we support emergent readers? Here are some Book Chook ideas:

Let children choose! Reading for pleasure is supposed to be just that. Your school might insist on a certain book being practised for homework, but if you take your child to the local library, there will be a great choice of easy readers. Don't forget the non-fiction section - ask the librarian if you need help finding them. Having lots of easy readers to choose from gives your child some ownership over her reading.

Keep books handy and accessible - in the car, on an easy-to-reach shelf in their bedrooms, in the bathroom even. Make sure there are all types of books around all the time, not just at bedtime and not just easy readers. A book makes a great break from boisterous play.

Let children read aloud to you if they want. I know that sometimes the last thing we want as parents is to listen to Ben and Ken Go to Town for the 34th time. But that's what parents do! We are our children's greatest supporters, and emergent readers need all our support.

Take an interest in what your child is reading. Chat about the books he likes, the books he can read, the books his friends are reading, the books he wants to read some day. Tell him about the books you're reading now and the ones you loved when you were his age.

Continue family read-alouds. Kids who are beginning to read (and for that matter, kids who are confident readers!) need to listen and watch as you read aloud to them - from a range of literature.

Play games with easy readers. This is especially important if your child isn't yet a confident reader. Open to any page and read aloud one sentence, swapping a key word for another you make up. "Ben and Ken climbed all the way to the top of the hill banana." Let your child correct you. Make it fun.

I firmly believe a book being read aloud by me the first time is a performance, and I don't interrupt it with questions. But rules are made to be broken. If your child is reading aloud, he might prefer a break between pages. You could discuss the illustrations - "Oh, Ben looks sad, I wonder why?" Be guided by your child. There is no right or wrong way, just the way that works best for you.

What ideas do you have for supporting emergent readers?

{This is my post for the I Can Read Carnival, held this September at The Book Chook. If you have written a book review about an easy reader/short chapter book, or have some tips on helping emergent readers become confident readers, please leave a comment on the main Carnival page, with the title and the url of your post. I'll keep adding links over the course of the week the Carnival is on.

If you're interested in ideas for family read alouds, you might like Ten Ways to Involve the Whole Family in Reading Aloud, Fourteen Fantastic Hints on Reading Aloud by Mem Fox Queen of Read Aloud, When Should We Start Reading to Kids?Encouraging Young Readers, or Rhyme Helps Reading.}


  1. Brilliant tips!

  2. Thanks Kelly B!

  3. Paula (Belgium)17 September, 2010

    I think you have summed up the best ideas. There is one thing that is valuable for us (maybe for others as well). When I read a longer text, I hand over my daughter a color page that is related to the story, the characters of the book or theme of the book. This has always worked for us and brings the story even more alive.

    Also, during long car journeys I load my daughters Ipod with audio-books.
    I sometimes order a book as well as the audio-version so we can listen together and read (good for spelling) at the same time. See, after so much reading, my voice starts to be horrible.

    I am looking forward to more advice!

  4. Some kids need to have their hands or even bodies occupied while they're listening to a read-aloud, Paula, so I'm glad you mentioned that. I love the idea of listening and looking/reading at the same time. My personal belief is always to share a book so younger kids can see what I'm reading aloud ie the words on the page, but I think it works well with older kids to have that double reinforcement too. As you say, with spelling, but also for decoding new or unusual words.

    Thanks for contributing to this post!

  5. Terry Doherty17 September, 2010

    Tell me more, Nana Chook ... I've not heard of Ben and Ken! Do they know Dick and Jane?

  6. Bound to! Plus David, Sue and Wendy, which were the characters that chooks in my era grew up on.

  7. Great ideas! As the mother of a second grader and a pre-k student, I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate reading into our every day activities.

    Another great way to encourage reading is by purchasing a personalized book at!

  8. All spot on! It is so important to make reading available all the time. Letting kids choose gives them ownership over reading and more importantly, makes it enjoyable.

  9. Well, I am never sure about whether those books encourage reading or not. I think they are cute, but I probably lean towards the belief that great literature is the way to encourage kids more. Having said that though, lots of material for emergent readers could NOT be described as great literature, yet it fulfills a role in children's reading development.

    I guess the books I admire most are the educational ones, early chapter books etc, where the writer manages to incorporate action, humour, likeable characters and intriguing plot AND still keep to restricted vocabulary and structure. Skill indeed!

  10. You're right, Kelly, ownership is vital. That's why I like kids to have books at home of their own, as well as to borrow from the library etc. Those books become old friends, as well as contribute mightily to reading progress.


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