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Just do it – read

January 19, 2009

by Jenni Sebora

Just as the Nike ads say, “Just Do It,” I saw a poster that relayed the same message, only with reading. “Reading. Just do it.”

I love to read, poetry, children’s books, magazines, fiction, nonfiction, sports, love stories, drama, biographies, autobiographies, and the list goes on.

There’s nothing like a good book to bring you to places you’ve never been or to connect you with people that it seems like you do know.

We all want our children to have a love of reading. We know the power of reading. Not only can it transform our worlds, reading is a part of everything we do. Reading has an impact on how well our children will do in school, and eventually in their careers, as well.

Reading does not just come naturally. We have to learn how to do it. We, as parents, are very instrumental in this learning process. Just “doing” it – reading with our children every day is important.

Reading books, magazines, newspapers, signs, and grocery ads, are certainly formats for reading. It also demonstrates to our children how integral reading is and how it is a part of our everyday life in everything we do.

Third grade is a pivotal year. The National Institute for Literacy – The Partnership for Reading tells us this, too. If a child can’t read fluently by the end of the third grade, she may not become a strong reader, and the journey ahead may be much harder.

“In fourth grade, students start using their reading skills as a tool for learning other things. They have to read well because the subjects get harder,” Dr. Sandra Baxter, director of the National Institute for Literacy, said in an article, “Dad’s Playbook – Coaching Kids to Read.”

This article further tells us that it is why we, as parents, need to consistently stay on top of how our children are progressing specifically in grades kindergarten through third grade. We should ask questions and get feedback from our children’s teachers as to how they are doing.

Research has shown that children who are not strong readers by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school later on.

This national institute tells us that there are five skills that our children need, to become readers. These skills are: spoken words – phonemic awareness, written words – phonics, word power – vocabulary, reading easily and smoothly – fluently, and knowing what it all means – comprehension.

Children need to hear how sounds in words go together – this is called phonemic awareness. Listen for rhyming words. Sings songs together.

Phonics is the knowledge of how letters represent sounds. This article further notes that children begin to learn about phonics when they are about 4-years old, and have a greater attention for letters and words in books. This phonics work continues up through about first grade, and in second grade, they will know most of the rules regarding phonics.

A child needs about 1,900 words to communicate. Vocabulary building is important. Naming items when you are shopping, driving, reading is important. Vocabulary development is important. The more words children know and understand, the better they will talk and read, professionals know.

The more we read, the easier it should get. Reading takes practice. Children need to practice their reading skills. Reading those same books over and over helps with reading fluency.

And, of course, we must understand what we read. When we read to our children, we should stop and ask questions. When we are playing with our children, we should ask them questions about the “rules,” of the game, etc.

More Newberry Medal winners:

• 1949: “Kind of the Wind” by Marguerite Henry

• 1948: “The Twenty-One Balloons” by William Pene du Bois

• 1947: “Miss Hickory” by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

• 1946: “Strawberry Girl” by Lois Lenski

• 1945: “Rabbit Girl” by Lois Lenski

• 1944: “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes

• 1943: “Adam of the Road” by Elizabeth Janet Gray

• 1942: “The Matchlock Gun” by Walter Edmonds

• 1941: “Call it Courage” by Armstrong Sperry

• 1940: “Daniel Boone” by James Daugherty.