Parents often ask me the question, “What can I do to help my child become a reader?”
Parents (and grandparents) should ask the second question, “How can I get my child to love reading?”
Parents also should be readers themselves. If you read, they will copy you. Providing lots of reading material at the proper reading level and finding the “right” book or magazine for your child is important. For example, Philo Farnsworth, inventor of the TV, pored over Popular Science Magazines as a child.
Another suggestion I give to parents is to start a reading club for your child.
The beauty of starting the club as a parent is that you can control who comes and, to some extent, what they read. Further, you can be the leader of the group until the children get the hang of how it works. So, how do you run a reading club?
First, you select the children. Parents of children who are friends can band together and share the leadership of between 5-8 kids. Next, you will need to select the book that the group will read and determine how many sessions each book will last. Remember to use this site to find reading level: http://www.scholastic.com/bookwizard/.
When the children arrive for the first meeting, you should lay the groundwork for the rest of the book club meetings. You can explain the responsibilities of each reader and have several books that they can select from to read as a group. Giving children a choice is always beneficial.
Finally, you might want to assign student reading roles so when they come to the next meeting, they will be ready to discuss. Harvey Daniels’ book titled “Literature Circles” describes possible roles for the students to perform in rotation. They are:
The Word Finder is responsible for finding new words in the text. I suggest he/she put the words on index cards and definition on the back.
The Questioner is responsible for coming to the next meeting with questions about the text. This could include questions about the theme, author’s purpose, plot, setting or characters and their relationships.
The Illustrator is responsible for critiquing existing illustrations and proposing ones that may amplify the text. To prepare all the children for this role, you could at the first meeting bring a picture book and read it to them. Ask the children to explain how an illustration has improved the meaning of the text. Have them sketch added illustrations that will further the meaning of the text.
The Summarizer is responsible to prepare a summary of the text that is to be read for the club meeting.
The Researcher is responsible for looking up information that would increase the knowledge base of the readers. For example, if the book was “Johnny Tremain,” the person would come back with information about the Revolutionary War.
The Literary Device Finder (my own additional role) is responsible for finding literary devices in the text. Examples are similes (uses like or as to compare concepts), alliteration (same sounding words like slithering snakes), onomatopoeia (words whose sound is imitative of the sound of a noise or action- hiss, and buzz, etc.). Others devices include analogies, metaphors and hyperbole.
Check the following source: “Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices: Recommended Books for Children and Young Adults” by Susan Hall. This literary device finder’s role should be introduced at the second meeting. The child who has this role notes the pages where these devices are located and can help others find them in the text.
You can select any book to demonstrate all of these roles. I recommend “For the Birds: The Life of Roger Torey Peterson” by Peggy Thomas.
Summer is a great time for parents or grandparents to start a reading club, but clubs can operate all year. The more your child reads, the better his/her SAT score will be, thus raising chances for scholarship money. An hour once a week in a reading club with friends may be just the thing to stimulate your child to read more.
Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher, who lives in Destin.