"Can you help me read the book by pointing to the words as I read them?" asked Paula DeJoy to her two daughters. DeJoy read "Silverlicious" by Victoria Kann to Bush Elementary School third-grader Isabella and kindergartner Siena as part of their daily, at-home reading routine to help build literacy skills.
"I think it is so important to read with your children at home because it not only reinforces what they are doing in the classroom, but also allows important family time allowing interaction in a setting without distractions," said DeJoy.
The girls love reading time too.
Jamestown High School graduate Courtney Kilmer read to elementary school students during last year’s Read Across America Day. The Jamestown Teachers Association sponsored the event where high school students and teachers used the day to promote reading to JPS elementary students by modeling good reading practices and being ambassadors of the positive effects of lifelong reading.
Prendergast Teen Services Librarian Kristie Bemis is pictured below helping Persell Middle School eighth-grader Hannah Smith pick out a book in the library’s Teen Center. The Prendergast Library has a Teen Advisory Board consisting of high school students who help run teen literacy events.
"It is really fun to read," said Isabella. "You can imagine you are in the book and become that character. I also learn lessons and new things every time I read a book. I like reading with my mom."
Studies show that when a child consistently reads either independently or with an adult at home, their reading skills improve in the classroom too. By reading with your child, you are helping to increase their vocabulary, enhance their understanding of what they are reading and developing their imagination. Reading together and picking out books also gives you a glimpse into your child's interests, whether that is dinosaurs, fairy tales or science fiction. You can entice your children to read more by providing books that spark their interest.
"Reading together not only builds bonding time, but also warm and positive feelings about reading that carries over into the school day," said Lincoln Elementary School third-grade teacher Karen Sykes. "I tell parents, remember when you held your child's hand while learning to take their first step? It is the same idea when you read with at home with your child, it is the first step in developing a good, lifelong reader."
How To Pick Out A Book For Your Child That's 'Just Right'
"It is critical that students read 'just right' books," said Persell Middle School Reading Specialist Lisa Stahlman-Colby. "If they are reading books that are too easy or too hard, all the extra time parents spend reading at home will not translate into the classroom. If a parent wishes to learn more about their child's reading level, their best first step is to contact their teacher. We know your child's reading ability through our daily work. We are more than willing to help parents find the right book for their child."
Both school library media specialists and personnel at the James Prendergast Library are also incredibly knowledgeable about how to choose books at the correct reading level. For an at-home determination of your child's reading level, try these methods from EngageNY.org:
The Five Finger Rule:
Have your child read the first two pages of a book. Anytime your child encounters a word that he or she doesn't know, put one finger up. If your child get to five fingers before the end of the first page, the book may be too hard to read alone.
The Page 2 Check:
Have your child read the first two pages. At the end of the second page, stop your child stop and ask him or her what has happened in the story so far. Does it make sense to your child? If it doesn't, then the book may be too hard.
The Page 5 Check:
Have your child read the first five pages. Ask your child, "is this book making me think?" If not, the book may be too easy for your child and a more challenging book is needed.
Parents can also model good reading behavior. Have your child "catch" you reading a good book, the newspaper or your favorite sports magazine. Talk about what you are reading and why you love it to instill positive feelings about reading. Take your child to the Prendergast Library where can get their own library card to take out free books but also many age-appropriate literacy activities including: early learning, first years and family story times, teen events, family movie nights and author book signings to name just a few. Check out their website at www.prendergastlibrary.org for more information.
With older children, connecting reading with popular culture can be beneficial. For example, having children read a book like the popular "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series before they go to the movie entices them to read and gives you the opportunity to have conversations.
"There is always more to the book than the movie and you visualize the story when you read," said Jamestown High School 11th-grader Zac Ricker. "Going to the movie after reading the book gives you the ability to compare and contrast what you visualized with what was on the screen. I love to read science fiction when I read for pleasure and my parents read a lot to me as a child. It really helped open up my imagination."
The number one suggestion to help your child to become a better reader is to read more. Read together everyday, provide opportunities for your child to read independently and encourage a genuine love of reading that will spill over into all areas of your child's life.