"Reason to Read"

The following was extracted from the February 1997 issue of "Learning Train News."

Child Care Providers in the State of Texas are required to earn 20 clock hour of training each year. "Learning Train News now offers 1.5 hours of self-instructional child care training in each issue. Below is a sample of training you will find in "Learning Train News"

"Learning Train News" is a news letter for parents, child care providers, and other professionals who care about children. "Learning Train News" is produced quarterly in the months of February, May, August, and November.

Copyright 1997 Learning Train News

Reason to Read


Has a child in your care ever looked at the pictures in a book and told you a story? Has a child made cards for grandma or grandpa, lovingly scribbled with marks resembling letters? Have you save scraps of paper for parents that were filled with the labored backwards letters from a child's first attempts to write his own name? These books, cards, and scraps of paper are often lovingly tucked away with other memories of value. Parents and providers are left wondering how to can help their child as he struggles with his first steps toward literacy. It's natural to want to give children every educational advantage when you see these signs of emergent literacy. It's also natural to be a little unsure about the best way to do it.

There is no activity for preparing a child to succeed as a reader more important than reading aloud together. Fill your story times with a variety of books. Be consistent, be patient, and watch the magic work. There are few experiences more rewarding than to see a child's life changed by the wondrous worlds opened by books.

Start reading to children as infants. The very young can enjoy the calming voice of a trusted parent or provider as part of a bedtime or nap time ritual. With in a few months you will find the same child listening to your voice and pointing to pictures in a cardboard book.

Continue to read to children as they grow and expose them to as many learning experience as possible. Cerate a reading center in you home, go on field trips when possible, do crafts, play games, teach basic concepts (i.e. letter names, letter sounds, right to left progressoin), and encourage a variety of experience. New experiences coupled with a variety of books will stimulate the imagination and reasoning skills of young children.

Don't stop reading. Even when children begin reading on their own, parents and providers need to continue reading. The interest level of readers will be above their reading level for several years. Even when children are able to read on or above their interest leave, reading aloud can reinforce a love for reading.

Offer reading experiences to children to motivate them to want to practice reading on their own. The desire to read is one of the first steps a child takes on the road to becoming a fluent reader. Show children the importance and joys of reading. Make reading fun and children will want to read.

With the help of a loving parent or provider, children can begin a lifelong journey through the world of printed words. We can help our children find the tools they need to succeed in life. As adults, they will find the power of knowledge found in books. Whether they read for business, knowledge, or pleasure, having access to printed word is an absolute necessity.

Tips for Reading

  • Read often to your children. Establish a routine. Select times of the day when you will read to children on a regular basis. Whether it be nap time, bed time, or simply story time; pick a time that best fits your situation. Skip your reading time only when absolutely necessary. Read, read, read, and then read some more.

  • Snuggle when you read. The importance of reading in a warm loving environment can not be stressed enough. Make reading a warm loving memory. Make it a time of friends bonding and sharing a wonderful world in a familiar book. Every morning or night show the children in your life how much you love to read by reading to them. They will love this time together and will learn to love reading.

  • Check out the public library. Books are free at the public library. Take children to the library and let him choose books to read. Check the books out and read daily. Make it a point to stay for the library story hour and then to read the new library books as soon as possible.

  • Do not skip your regular reading time. If you take children to a story time at your library, you still need to read at your regular time. No matter what activities you do during the day and no matter how many times your child has been read to, nothing should replace your regular reading time.

  • Read and reread stories requested by children. Often children want to hear the same story over and over and over again, till the parent or provider can recite the story from memory. That is good, children learn from repetition. You can pick books too, but children are the best judge of what they enjoy.

  • Make predictions. Ask a child if he can guess what the story will be about from looking at cover and title. As the story line moves along, talk about what just happened and what might happen next.

  • Enjoy the illustrations. The expressions on the faces of characters can be fun and can add depth to a child's understanding how the characters might feel in their situations. Understanding the feelings in a book is a large step to understanding ourselves and others.

  • Expand the story. Have children suggest other possible endings or change part of the story. Try picking a key word in the story to change. One popular story to change is "The Three Little Pigs". A simple change of little to big and the story becomes "The Three Big Pigs." Ask how that would change the story. Perhaps the three big pigs could frighten the wolf away.

  • Talk about the authors and illustrators of the books you read. Many children are unfamiliar with who authors and illustrator are and what they have to do with books. Don't overlook information about these people as they bring the human quality into a child's world of books. These pages let children know that books are written by ordinary people. People just like their mom, dad, grandparent or people just like them. Children need to know that they too can create books that will be treasured. Point out these pages when you read to Children.

  • Talk about the dedication pages in the books you read. To whom or what was the book dedicated. What was the author feeling when the book and dedication were written? What would your child want to say if he were to write a book dedication?

  • Point to the words as you read. Underline words with your finger as you read. This will help your child learn the direction of flow of written language.

  • Create a reading center in your home. Pick a convenient place in your home to put your reading center. In this center place several of your child's favorite books, magazines, other fun reading materials, a small box containing other learning materials, and a second small box for games and puzzles. You may wish to place the center at a child sized table or in a corner filled with pillows. Make your center warm and inviting so children will chose reading as a fun activity. The materials that you will want to provide will depend on the age and interests of the children.

  • Be patient. Try to remember all the things children must learn that you take for granted. Children must learn the difference between words and pictures; that it is the words we read not the pictures. They must learn that words travel across the page from left to right and that words are made out of letters and separated by spaces.

  • By reading aloud, modeling reading for children, and involving children in other activities parents and provider have the opportunity to help children learn the value of reading and to help them develop a love for learning that can give pleasure and power over their life's path.

    Other Activities

    People who read to children everyday, should consider including other early literacy activities each day. Watch for information on whole language and phonics activities in coming issues of "Learning Train News" and check out activities found in About "Building Blocks to Reading" . Overview of activities.

    Here are some fun activities you can try with children.

    Make a word box. A word box is a basic idea that can be used to help a child understand the connection between his spoken language and written language. A word box and the words the child will choose to put in the box can be used in a verity of activities that make learning a game.

    To make your word box you will need a shoe box, old magazines, scissors, glue, clear contact paper. Cut letters and words from the large colorful titles and ads in the magazines. You will want both upper and lower case letters. Glue them all over the outside of the box and the lid of the box. Let the glue dry. Cover your lid and box with clear contact paper.

    Start adding the child's words to the word box. The idea is to let the child pick his favorite words to go in the word box. This will give him a sense of ownership and increase his desire to learn the words in the box. Write the words on index cards or for a younger child write the words on squares of cardboard. These word cards can be used in a verity of activities. They can be held, carried around in pockets, traced with fingers, copied, or used in a writing center.

    Ask the child questions to help him pick words for the word box. You could start by asking him, "What is the best word in the whole world?" The words chosen should be fun and exciting to the child. The more fun and interesting you can make the activity of choosing words the more learning value that activity will offer your child.

    Hide and Peek Game -- Select the two or three cards that represent words that the child knows (Let's use cards "Mom", "bike", and the child's name for an example). Hide the cards somewhere in the room. Don't make it too hard to find the cards. You may wish to leave the corners of the cards showing. Call your child into the room and ask your child to find the card with the word "Mom". If your child finds the card you asked for; he keeps the card. Then you can then ask your child to find another card. If the child does not find the card you asked for, the card he found must be returned to it's hiding place and he continues the search for the correct card.

    Make a memory game. Make a second set of cards with pictures that represent the word on the cards. These pictures can be photographs, cut from magazines and sales fliers, or drawn by the child, parent, or provider.

    To play use standard memory game rules. Shuffle the cards and lay then face down on the playing surface. In turn each player turns over two cards. If the cards match, the player may keep the cards. If the cards don't match the cards must be returned to their original location. Play continues till all cards are matched.

    Training for Texas Providers

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    1. True or False? There is no activity for preparing a child to succeed as a reader more important than reading aloud together.

    2. True or False? There is no reason to read to children till they are at least 3 years old.

    3. True or False? You should stop reading to a child when they start reading on their own.

    4. You should choose a regular time it read to children. What is the time you will choose to read to children?

    5. True or False? Children should not be allowed to choose any of the books that will be read to them.

    6. True or false? Do not read the same book twice; children do not enjoy repetition.

    7. What are some things that adults understand about reading that children must learn?

    8. True or False? There is no reason to teach children about the authors and illustrators of the books you read.

    9. Set up a reading center in your home. Describe what you have in your reading center.

    10. True or False? Reading is important to the future of our children.

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    This page has been accessed times since April 25, 1998.

    Karen M. Potter
    Copyright Karen M. Potter 1996
    Learning Train
    6804-E Hwy 6 South, Box 381
    Houston, TX, USA 77083

    Last updated: April 25, 1998