Monday, November 1, 2010

Promote literacy: four important activities

There’s a fourth promoter of literacy.

You know that I’m always going on about the three most important things you can do to turn your kid into a great reader:

1) Read to her every day.
2) Have lots of books scattered throughout your house.
3) Let her see you reading.

Research tells us that if you do those three things, you’re more likely to have a kid who loves to read.

A Grade 1 - 2 teacher at my son’s school told me about another one: The number of books she reads/looks at/has read to her.

Mr. Remisch told me that kids who “go through” books at a fairly good clip tend to be lifelong readers. It makes sense; it’s kind of an extension of #2—exposing her to books, having them around her.

Mr. Remisch has a wonderful plan to get the kids in his class to “get through” a lot of books. He uses an incentive.

The kids in his class will write down the title of every book they read, along with as much as they can or want to say about the book. When they get to 30, they’ll get a certificate.

For a six-year-old, that’s a pretty solid incentive. In fact, just keeping track—or having your teacher keep track—of the books you’re reading is enough to keep a kid reading.

In this exercise, Mr. Remisch isn't concerned as much about the quality of the reading material, as the quantity. He’s not trying to make kids read specific things, here; he’s trying to expose them to books. Lots of books.

He’s setting the stage for later years, when the quality of the reading material will become more important.

He doesn’t want kids going home and staying up until two in the morning, reading all 30 books in one week, so he’ll probably set a limit of three books a day.

And he says it is important that the child understand what she’s reading, so there will be some discussions about the books. And for every, say, dozen or so books, he’ll ask the child for a bit more detail.

A reading incentive chart with a nice reward is a great way to expose your child to books and get her reading.

Here’s an earlier article we wrote on Reading Reward Charts.

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