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Essential Points for Raising Eager Readers
Reading AloudCommon wisdom tells us that reading stories to our young children will make them better, more enthusiastic readers later on. We don't know if studies have proven this assertion, but we will accept it as a given. There does seem to be a natural transition between listening to great stories when you're small and later reading them yourself. And few things are more enjoyable for parents and kids than sharing a great story together.
Phonics InstructionSome children will pick up and internalize all the phonics rules without ever being taught them explicitly. They will figure out the system, crack the code, on their own, or almost on their own. But this is the exception. MOST CHILDREN NEED TO LEARN PHONICS in order to learn to read well. Children who needed phonics instruction and never received it cannot enjoy reading--it is just too much of a chore.
PracticeMost children go through a phase in learning to read where they can do it, but it is difficult, more work than pleasure. This could be in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade. At this point many children need to be pushed to read, or they may get stuck at this stage and never reach the point of enjoying reading. Parental involvement ("you have to go read this for a half hour") and reading incentives are very important at this point. Practice is essential, practice on good literature that will make the effort worth their while.
Good LiteratureWould you bring your young children to the grocery store and let them make all of their diet selections themselves, with no guidance from you? What do you think they would bring home? Would it be good for them? Letting them loose, unguided, in the library or bookstore will probably result in a diet of low-quality junk for the mind.
Not all books were created equal. When you go to the library or bookstore, help your children make good selections. Give them some guidance. Show them that there is a distinction between a book that is worth reading and a book that isn't worth buying, reading, or even checking out from the library. Kids who have been provided with good literature will not crave junk-books. They will grow into avid readers and lovers of reading--eager readers.