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The Titan Talk blog gives the faculty and staff at St. Timothy's School a chance to post relevant information to our community. Feel free to leave comments or questions for our bloggers!

Why Read with Your Children?

The art of reading to and with your children is sometimes a lost art in this day and age. With the rise of technology, students are often interested in reading as quickly as possible so they can move on to posting photos to their Instagram accounts or to creating Musical.ly videos to share with friends. However, students can gain much from reading to and with their parents or other expert readers at home throughout the week. Below is just a short list of some of the benefits of reading aloud together at any age.

Children can hear proper expression, prosody and fluency.

Beginning and intermediate readers need to hear proper reading modeled for them. When children read at home with older siblings, parents or grandparents, they are afforded the opportunity to hear from expert readers. They can hear how you stop appropriately at end punctuation. They can hear how you create rise and fall in your voice. They can hear how you stress certain syllables within words. They can hear how you add happiness, sadness or excitement in your tone when the narrator calls for these things. Modeling expression, prosody, and fluency for a child is always important, as these are critical components to creating an expert reader. Furthermore, these components also help build and strengthen comprehension skills.

Children can follow along with you in the book, and can continue to create a link between the letter symbols and letter sounds.

Understanding the various sounds vowels, vowel teams, and letter blends make can be challenging for any reader, but especially a reader who is just beginning to hone their craft. When reading together at home, it is important to have your child look at the book and track along with you. By doing so, the child is both seeing the letters and words on the page at the same time s/he is hearing the sounds you are making. While following along with you, s/he is strengthening the link between the sounds and symbols on the page. A child listening while following the text is as effective as a child reading a text independently. Furthermore, s/he is able to see how you break apart multisyllabic words and how you link sounds to the different pieces of the word on the page. This is a skill that becomes increasingly important as a reader becomes more and more advanced, encountering larger and more unfamiliar words with greater frequency.

Parents and children can work together to strengthen comprehension.

One of the greatest reading shifts that occurs is the shift from learning to read to reading to learn. No longer is the main focus on decoding the words and letters, but also on deepening a child’s understanding of what those words are saying. When reading together, parents can help question children about the story along the way to gauge their understanding of the text. (Lexile.com has a number of great questions you can explore and use when reading with your children. Moreover, many authors will also post discussion questions related to their novels to their websites.) If a child is lacking understanding at certain points in the book, parents can model quality reading strategies a child can add to his or her reading tool belt. If a child forgets important information or does not remember important information, parents can remind him to re-read. Moreover, parents can help ensure children summarize information along the way to keep information fresh in their minds. Finally, parents can even encourage the child to jot notes of important information along the way so that the next time you read together, the child can review the notes and have an immediate reminder as to what just happened in the plot. Not only can a parent model how to best read, but a parent can also model how to best understand.

Books allow parents and children to more easily access important societal themes that are relatable to a child’s everyday life.

Today’s books access many topics and themes in our everyday world; friendship, bullying, peer pressure, and self-confidence are just a few themes that come up repeatedly in fiction. Reading is an incredible way to follow a character’s journey and discuss both the actions and ideas of the text in a less personal way to a child. While it is always important to know the daily happenings in a child’s life, a book with relatable themes may open the door to more open and honest discussions at home.

If life gets in the way, there are some great online reading tools that can still help with expression, prosody and fluency.

Today’s world is a busy place, and there may not always be time to read and discuss reading together. If this is the case, Storia by Scholastic, which St. Timothy’s has a subscription to, has a “Read to Me” feature on many of their online books and articles. Audible.com, powered by Amazon, is an incredible source for over 180,000 books on tape. They offer a free 30-day trial, and have a minimal monthly fee should you end up really liking it. Finally, Storyline Online (storylineonline.net) is a great website full of famous actors and actresses reading children’s books aloud.

Over the summer, try to find some time to grab a blanket and a book, and do some reading outdoors together!

Posted by Caitlin Roach in Parent Guides, Reading on Tuesday May 30, 2017
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