Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teaching Literacy

I think as parents we all want our kids to read well.  To enjoy reading.  But sometimes teaching that has us a little stumped.

Recently I helped my friend Alyson (watch for reviews from her soon!) put together a list of tips for parents.

(Some of these are specific to the Salt Lake Valley, but most are good ideas for anyone, anywhere.)

Teaching Literacy
Helping kids find the treasures buried in books

 Print Awareness: Literacy starts with learning about books: what they are, how we hold them, how we look at/read them.

 Read TO and WITH your children: This is extremely important.

 Rhyme, Rhythym, and Repetition: These characteristics help pre-readers relate to language and enjoy it.  (Think “This is the House that Jack Built” or “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” or “Old King Cole was a merry old soul”.)

 Book-Related Activities: Read books and do activities that go with them.  For example, read If You Give a Moose a Muffin and make muffins.  You can find many ideas online. ( has over 100 ideas)

 Make use of Literacy/Phonics Websites: Read To Me ( and Star fall ( are great options.  You can also find books read aloud on Youtube (Mercer Mayer reads the Little Critter books, for example).

 Look for What Interests your Child: You can find books on ANY subject.  Some good choices for more reluctant readers are: DK Eyewitness books, Origami Yoda, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, or nonfiction sets (such as those found at Costco) that include models and activities.
 Encourage Comprehension: Ask questions.  Have your child tell you about the characters, the order of events, the setting, and ideas that come up in the book.  Point out cause-and-effect relationships, similar and contrasting ideas and viewpoints.  Discuss why characters make the decisions they do.

 Familiarize Yourself with What your Children are Reading: Many books written for children still contain mature themes of which you may want to be aware.  For example, Flowers in the Attic is on many lists given to middle school students but the growing romantic relationship between the brother and sister in the book is the author’s version of a happy ending.  Be prepared to discuss difficult topics and how they are treated in books.  Reserve the right to veto your child’s reading choice, but use it wisely.

 USE YOUR LIBRARY!  We are blessed to live in an area with an amazing county library system.  The endless supply of resources includes: story time, after-school activities, booklists, bilingual activities, discussion groups for all ages, inter-library loan, evening family activities, summer reading programs, the Reader’s Choice program, and many others found on the library website.  (  You can also find the library on Facebook and Pinterest.

 Celebrate Reading: Have books in your home, let your children see you read, be positive and encouraging about their reading choices and assignments (remember, just because you didn’t like it doesn’t mean they won’t, and vice versa), and always always celebrate success!

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