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Steps to Success » Reading Skills

The Path to Becoming an Engaged Reader

During my five years of teaching young learners, I have often been approached by parents struggling to help their children read.

Parents are well aware that learning to read is a crucial step towards reading to learn, and they are eager to help their children become independent learners.

I’ve found some useful tips which parents can use at home to support reading and ensure their child has everything they need for success at school.

Choose the right book for your child

Children need a reason to read, so choose a book that will captivate their attention and motivate them to keep tackling the words in it. There are also some key things to look out for which will help your child learn from the book they read.

  • Engaging visuals – Make sure that your child is able to build connections with the images in the story and relate them to their own personal experiences.
  • Level-appropriate language – Flip to a random page of the book and ask your child to read it aloud. The book you choose should not include more than a handful of unknown words per page.
  • Audio versions – A voice recording of the story allows you to use the book in a variety of ways for different types of learners. Following the words they hear with a finger can help children learn the patterns of words. Copying the recording is a great way of improving pronunciation. Acting out the story as the book is read aloud connects words to their meanings.
  • Supportive activities – Look out for pre-reading and post-reading questions and activities that help your child engage with the book.

Allow room for uncertainty

Slower readers often struggle to connect the words they read into a complete story in their heads. It can be helpful to provide additional support for this in order to help them see the end goal of reading. Try the following:

  • Encourage mistakes – Some children get into the habit of looking up from the page whenever they encounter a word they can’t read. This is quite a disruptive process and children find it hard to follow the narrative. Encourage your child to try sounding out the word. You can step in once they’ve attempted it, but encourage them to keep their eyes on the page while you do so in order to connect the word to the sound you’re saying.
  • Ask recapping questions – Find out which parts of the story your child hasn’t followed by asking regular recapping questions. If they don’t know the answer, demonstrate how to summarise the important parts you’ve read using cause and effect, e.g. ‘The witch felt Hansel’s finger to see if he was fat enough to eat. Hansel held out a chicken bone to trick the witch into thinking he was very thin because Hansel didn’t want the witch to eat him.’
  • Ask questions around the story – Following context clues and making predictions are key elements of reading more complex stories. Ask questions such as ‘Why did Hansel do that?’ or ‘What do you think Hansel will do next?’ Wild guesses are fine to start with. You can point out clues in the story to refine your child’s ideas, and soon they’ll have excellent reading skills.

At i-Learner, we publish books which target exactly the skills covered in this article. Our newest series, Bugbug’s Library, contains graded readers which are closely aligned with the Hong Kong curriculum. These books encourage higher order thinking through pre- and post-reading questions, prediction activities, mind maps, and more. Not only that, but the vibrant pictures and engaging story lines are sure to inspire a love of reading in your little one. Drop into one of our centres to pick up your copies today.