BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
How to Best Read a Book to a Four or Five Year Old
While some of this following content may seem simplistic I've included everything, because as readers, we forget how much we take for granted.
Read often and make it interesting and enjoyable
There are many skills and knowledge a child needs prior to being able to learn to read themselves. There is a starting position on a page and we read in this order:
From front to back
From top to bottom
From left to right
Prediction is an important skill to develop as it aids comprehension. Images help children predict
Letter sounds help children read, letter names do not. Encourage kids to sound out
A sentence is one complete thought. A full stop indicates the writer has finished what they have to say... Until the next thought.
Concepts of Print
IN ENGLISH WE READ FROM THE FRONT TO THE BACK...
1. Discuss and Predict: The front of a book is called the Front Cover and the back the Back Cover.
You can discuss the picture on the cover and encourage your child to predict what they think the story might be about.
You can also introduce the words Title and Author and discuss what they mean.
For example: One of the author's writing I'm particularly fond of is Julia Donaldson.
'Room on the Broom,' 'The Gruffalo' and 'Sharing a Shell' are some of my favourites because of her humour, use of rhythmical language and use of rhyme in some of them.
I feel they are great for helping children to hear word families. e.g. room, broom, cat, hat, spat, etc
Books need to face the right way up to be successfully read in English and images help highlight which way is up.
Inside the Front Cover is a Title Page that usually contains the same text as the Front Cover
and this highlights the name of the author and illustrator.
2. Starting Position: As you read to your child show them where you expect to start your story.
See if they can tell you where to start on subsequent pages or books.
Some books are more difficult to work out as the text may be in a single line across the bottom of a page or sometimes it may be midway on a page.
You'll need to discuss the concept of where the TOP OF THE TEXT is as opposed to the top of a page, as they may be two different things.
Finding an author kids like can make locating other books they might like easier.
You can identify examples of rhyming words once you've read the story... Initially see if your child can hear the two words that sound the same e.g. (cat, dog, rat, ) or (ball, fall, me)
As they get better introduce a variable like having two of the words beginning with the same sound
e.g. (cat, rat, call) or (small, tall, sit)
From here you can identify other rhymes in songs, poems, nursery rhymes and stories.
IN ENGLISH WE READ FROM LEFT TO RIGHT FROM THE TOP OF THE PAGE TO THE BOTTOM AND BEGINNING FROM THE TOP LEFT HAND CORNER
3. Show with your finger how you follow a line as you read and how you return to the beginning of the next line
Take particular care to show that you begin at the beginning of the next line to continue with the story.
AT THE END OF A LINE WE DROP TO THE BEGINNING OF THE LINE IMMEDIATELY BELOW IN WHAT'S CALLED A RETURN SWEEP.
Where there's split text, it needs to be highlighted that you complete all of the text on one page before progressing onto the next.
GO FROM TOP TO BOTTOM THEN GO TO THE NEXT PAGE AND TOP TO BOTTOM AGAIN.
The Importance of Prediction when Reading
Predicting what's going to happen next is a great skill to encourage.
Images give clues to what the text might be about.
If you're reading with your child ask them what they think might happen next before you turn the page. Then once you turn the page ask them if they want to change their mind. You can read the text and see if your guess was what the author chose.
You can also look at alternative stories within stories, as one day your child will be writing their own stories and there's no 'one story line' that is the only correct one.
Encourage your child to look at the pictures when beginning to read (if they can't work it out from the words alone.) Pictures scaffold reading for sense.
The example of the train above provides a clear example of obvious return sweep before progressing onto the next page.
However the double page example written in the middle could be less obvious if it were to continue and meander across the page.
Sometimes text can split across differing levels, but even then, it's always left page first, from top to bottom, and then right page, top to bottom.
Show your child, writing is made up of a collection of letters, that put together, make up words that express meaning.
You could say something like, 'I wonder what these three letters might say if I put them together?'
M U M
The most important thing to remember is you're trying to develop a positive attitude to reading, so only cover one concept at a time. Discuss concepts of print incidentally.
Repeat information and build skills slowly.
Remember: You're creating an attitude to reading for life.
You can show simple examples of words that can be sounded out easily and show them how you sound them out.
e.g. C A T roll the sounds together into one word CAT.
Always use the sound a letter makes not its name when you are attempting to illustrate how sounding works.
Letter names do not show children how to sound.
For example C (See) A (Ay) T (Tee) phonetically makes Seeaytee when you use letter names to join together.
But sounds C- A- T produce cat.
When we put a group of words together that tell us something, we call that a sentence.
A sentence can be made up of just one word through to many words. It usually tells us only one thing at a time unless it has a joining word (or conjunction) in it. e.g.: and, but, because, so, then, etc
When we've finished telling one thing we use a full stop to show we've finished.
I sometimes used to read children's stories who didn't use full stops correctly and I would read them as they had written them and I would go blue in the face as the text continued on and on and they would start to laugh.
Full stops are important because they provide someone with an opportunity to pause, take a breath and think.
They say to a reader 'I've finished what I have to say.'
Expose your child to the joy books bring and the rich vocabulary they provide.
You have years to expose your children to how text works.
Let The Importance of Proximal Development guide you and show you the pitfalls of exposing children to information that's too hard.
For more information on learning to read go to the links below:
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