When it comes to teaching children to read, we need to think of reading outside the book.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE books ... especially really well crafted children's books. In fact, I cherish going to the library in the hope that I'll find another treasure to devour with my boys.
When the boys grow older and are no longer drawn to picture books, I'm sure you'll still find me lurking in the children's book section! What can I say, I love picture books!
However, reading is more than 'books' alone.
Reading for meaningful purposes takes many forms. In fact, if you stop to think how many times you read in one day in one format or another, you may be surprised.
Just to name a few, we read:
- signs (have you noticed how many signs there are in a shopping centre!!!)
- instruction manuals
- recipe books
- packaging on food
- directional signs (e.g., exit/entry)
- labels on shopping centre shelves
- ads (on TV, posters, flyers, bulletin boards)
- symbols (e.g., the big "M" for McDonald's Restaurants)
- internet sites
- and electronic devices.
I'm sure you could add to this list. By the way, feel free to add to this list by leaving a comment on this post. :o
Armed with the knowledge that reading often takes different forms, it's time to incorporate that into our quests to encourage children to read by:
- Leaving notes in odd places. Why? Because it's hard to resist reading something that's placed in an unusual spot (e.g., stuck to the back of the cereal box) or on the back of the bathroom door.
- Reading signs when out walking around (e.g., street signs, numbers on letter boxes, labels on post boxes, shop signs, etc.)
- Cooking - rewrite recipes in a simplified version so children can read them easily
- Instruction manuals - Lego blocks often come with great instruction manuals for children to read
- Game instructions
- Make a word walk
- Electronic devices (e.g., electronic readers, iPads)
The key to helping children learn to read successfully, is for them to enjoy reading for a purpose. That purpose could be to obtain information they are after, or because of an interest they have.
I'd love to hear about the different forms of reading outside the book which your family engages in.
Please feel free to share and inspire others with your great ideas (e.g., turning on the TV subtitles). Leave a comment on this post or on our facebook page.
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Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.