We do it naturally. As parents and teachers of pre-readers, we talk about a book, look at pictures, share guesses about what is going to happen in the story and stop from time to time during the read-aloud presentation to ask questions, share feelings and solicit reactions from the listeners. Sometimes we even point out particular words.
These pre-reading activities are both social and academic. They can make a huge difference to how well and how soon kids learn to read.
Scott McConnell, a professor of educational psychology at University of Minnesota cites the famous quote: “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” when he talks about pre-reading experiences. His point is: If kids see adults reading and enjoying it, they too will want to read and expect to do so. That’s why it is vitally important to read to kids at the pre-reading stage. They need to see reading as a satisfying search for meaning. They need to know that readers and listeners bring their experiences to the reading process.
Anita McGinty, an education researcher at University of Virginia Curry School of Education says her biggest message to parents to ensure the academic success of their kids is: “Read to young children.” Her research which has spanned fifteen years explored exactly which reading behaviors were the most successful. Their researchers discovered that 90% of the time, preschoolers’ attention focused on the pictures and the sound of the readers’ voice not on the print. Research by Shayne Piasta at Ohio State University supported McGinty’s findings. Based on this research, educators looked at how they could change what children see and think about when stories are read to them. Could children who are at risk of experience reading problems somehow have that risk minimized by changing the way in which pre-readers are read to? McGinty, Piasta and another researcher, Laura Justice, teamed up to look at how reading changes could improve reading.
They used two groups. One group was read to as usual. The other group was given questions which directed kids’ attention to the print on the page. Both groups were read to four times a week. The second group of teachers was asked to point out letters or words or phrases four to eight times. This resulted in only about a minute and a half per book. The findings published in Child Development demonstrated that these short directions to look at letters, words or phrases made a big difference. Children who focused on print for up to ninety seconds per book had better literacy skills.
It’s a simple thing to add specific reference to words, letters, phrases and repeated sentences to your discussion of the book. Four to six short references per book is a maximum.
Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all facets of formal education. After all, if a student struggles to put together words and sentences, how can he be expected to grasp the math, science, and social concepts he’ll be presented with when he begins elementary school? Reading aloud to kids and pointing out letters and how they build words in a great start and makes a huge difference to reading readiness.
Richly Middle Class is proud to support A Book on Every Bed. As part of this incentive, they are giving away a book a month to the visitor who best outlines how he/she will use this book to encourage love of reading in his/her home, school or community.
This month’s selection is one that focuses on letters: Bingham, Kelly L.
Z is for Moose by Kelly L. Bingham with delightful illustrations by Paul Zelinsky. Moose is very eager to be part of an alphabet book until his letter is passed by. Zebra helps solve the problem.
Please enter our Book on Every Bed Monthly Giveaway. We will be giving away three books this month.