Thursday, March 21, 2013

Part I: How to Get Your Child Excited to Read Using Chapter Books

My son has recently started to sit down with chapter books and read silently.  It warms this bookworm's heart.  Everyone's experiences with helping children to read are different, but I'd like to pass on a few ideas to jump start your child's interest in reading independently, using chapter books.

Why Chapter Books?
  • Excitement -  The more interesting the content, the easier it will be to get your child excited to read.  Small, one story books are great, but the story isn't always strong enough to bring them back for more.
  • Cliff-hangers - Many chapter books have cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter, which introduces kids to the edge-of-their seat anticipation of what is coming next.
  • Different levels for different ages - Various series come in different levels, i.e., "Young Cam Jansen" for younger readers and "Cam Jansen" for older readers.  This allows the character to grow with your child as his reading prowess progresses.
  • Easy to find - Your school library is an excellent source for finding chapter book series.  Parents can often check books out of the school library for their children, which is awesome.
  • Great selection - Each series usually has many books, deepening the connection your child feels with the characters.
Getting Started Reading Chapter Books, Step by Step
  • Read a chapter book aloud to your child.
  • Have your child try reading a word here and there. If they're struggling, help out with the word.  The point is to keep it fun.  The learning will come.
  • Once they're comfortable with reading occasional words, encourage them to read a sentence at a time.  Obviously, you'll be reading 95% of the book, but the goal is to get them interested and build their confidence.
  • When reading small, beginner chapter books (suggestions will follow in Part II of this series), have your child read one page, and then you read the next page.  Keep it light and fun.  Rhyming books are a great way to build confidence.
  • Once your child has a favorite series (ideally with a favorite character), here is the best tip I can give you.... Ask your child to pick his favorite character in the book, and then have him read that character's dialogue, sort of like a play. At first, have her read the words inside the quotes, helping her when needed.  Then, you'll see her start to expand to the descriptive words, like "He explained" or "She said"
  • After you see your child's abilities grow, read a chapter or two of a new book with him.  Then, stop reading and move onto something else (i.e., making lunch).  Hopefully, your child will be so excited to see what's next, they might try to read the following chapter on their own.
  • If your child doesn't get motion sickness, it's GREAT to put an unfinished chapter book in the back seat of the car with him.  Our son is sometimes so motivated to find out what happens next after we start a book, that reading in the car is the perfect place to keep going.
Before you know it, your little girl or guy will astound you with how far they've come!
Tune in tomorrow for my extensive list of favorite chapter book series for beginning and intermediate readers!