If your child is between 6 and 8 years old, chances are you have an intermediate reader in your home. This means your child is more than likely reading smoothly most of the time, is understanding how words and pictures tie together to tell a story, and is figuring out the meaning of unknown words. This also means your child is on the cusp of becoming an advanced reader. In this article, you'll find simple things you can do to help keep your child's reading on track and continue to foster a love for reading that will bring joy to you and your child.
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As your child masters the mechanics of reading at school, you can help him grow as a reader at home. Here are 13 things you can do to keep him turning pages:
Encourage your child to choose their books
Reading is a personal experience that turns from habit into passion when your child is invested in the books she reads. Don't worry if your child isn't interested in the books you loved or the books that "should be read." Indulge his taste for books about ship, planes, or trucks.
Graphic novels and comic books are okay, too (they're even more than okay as recently the most-honored children's book - the winner of the Newbery Medal - was a graphic novel). Sharing the love of reading and helping your child to read isn't about your following a set script. Your responsibility is to instill a love of reading and letting go of control over your child's books can help in that process.
One way to let your child choose is to go to the library as often as you can or as often as your child wants to go. Have your child explore the stacks and get to know the librarian so she can help pick out interesting books that relate to your child's interests.
Be a reader to raise a reader
Your child wants to be just like you, so read around him whenever you can. Don't wait until after bedtime to dive into your novel. When you're reading mail, shopping lists, notes, even catalogs, share what you're reading with your child.
And when you are reading with your child, have fun with the moment. Read aloud with gusto, with drama, and with expression. Get silly. Make animal noises. Be loud and soft and everything in between. Sing part of the book if you're in the mood. Ask your child to do the same when reading books to you.
You'll not only make reading more fun but also teach your child about punctuation, sentence structure, and the flow of a story.
Give your child the space to read
Setting aside some quiet time just for reading can be a big boost to your child's growth toward being an advanced reader. Thirty minutes of quiet time for reading before or after dinner, for example, reinforces the idea that reading is part of the daily routine. Have everyone in the family participate; this is an activity for all ages. If possible, after reading time discuss everyone's books for a few minutes.
While reading with your child is very important, it is also good at this stage to encourage your child to read alone. Not all the time, of course, but developing readers can master some books on their own and need to do so to become fluent readers.
Pro tip: Mix it up. Read a few difficult books to your child, and then let your child read an old favorite by himself. And make sure he has an inviting place to read – a comfy chair or bed with a reading light nearby.
Engage your reader
Reading to and with your child is the classic way to engage with your budding reader. You can take that engagement to another level with your intermediate-reader by challenging them to read new, more complicated books and to discuss with them what they're reading.
Developing readers are absolutely ready for longer books that feature multiple characters and events. Have your child read a chapter or part of a chapter each night. Or try reading chapters aloud to one another — now that your child is reading more, he might enjoy reading to you for a change.
Recapping previous chapters will train him to recall past events and open the door to talking about a book as you read it. You can help build comprehension skills by asking questions beforehand: "What do you think this book is about?" Discuss the title, the cover, and the author. As you read the book, stop once in a while to talk about the story. "What do you think will happen next?" "Do you like the character?" "What do you think he should do?" When the book is over, ask your child what he liked or didn't like about it.
Never stop reading
Your child is probably beyond reading simple stop signs, but there are plenty of other things to read from a car window. Ask your child to try to read street signs, movie posters, billboards – they're all fair game. You can also work on a little storytelling as you drive through the world. If you see or your child sees someone or something interesting, explore the character or history behind what you both see. Is that dog a superhero? Is that car actually a robot? The story-based creativity you practice only serves to reinforce the idea of what might be waiting to be discovered in a book.
While you read together, don't labor over your child's mistakes or hiccups with difficult words. "Let it go," says reading specialist and first-grade teacher Cindy Pfost. "Don't correct every mistake. If they say, 'The bear went to his house' and the page says, 'The bear went to his home,' that's okay. They're getting the meaning, and that's what's important."
To that end, don't make reading an assignment or require an hour of read-aloud time a night. "Reading time should last as long as the child is interested," Pfost says. "Don't overdo it."
Finally, one way to prompt reading and bond with your child is by getting into the habit of writing your child notes. You'll teach your child to appreciate reading and writing as a form of communication with a note as simple as "I love you." Put a note in a school lunch, for example. Use words your child has seen or words you've read in favorite books.
Make it fun. See fun reading activities for intermediate readers.
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