What’s my place in this big, crazy world? Children of this age are interested both in defining their own identities and in investigating questions about the larger world. A good middle-grade book can be surprisingly philosophical, taking on notions like fairness, justice, freedom and compassion. Some of the best are historical fiction set in challenging time periods like the Civil War, the Holocaust or the Civil Rights Era. They often deftly address, in an age-appropriate way, real-world problems your child is just becoming aware of: ideas like racism, refugees, the foster care system and mental illness. Tip: Whatever personal challenge your child is navigating — bullying, the end of a friendship, social anxiety, a cross-country move, or death or illness in the family — there is a good middle-grade novel that can help him or her get through it. Ask a librarian or experienced bookseller for a recommendation.
That magical breakthrough moment — when your child shows an interest in letters, and begins to make out words on a page or in the world itself — happens at different ages for different children, even within the same family. Most parents describe a long period in which a child can’t keep letters straight or identify words, then a quick burst of comprehension, followed by more regular, but still sudden leaps. It really can seem like magic — so don’t rush it.
Hi. As you will see once reading my post, I’m feeling awfully desperate & unable to sleep over issues my kindergartner is having in school. He’s an “older” kindergartner (6.5 y.o.). I have done all the things in your list. He loves me to read to him, and I do often up to an hour 1 day (books of HIS choice). Once he joined kindergarten, I started hearing that the work is too hard, that he hates reading, he can’t read, won’t be able to for a long time, he’s a terrible reader, etc. Early on…probably 3 weeks into the year, they had a 20 sight words screening/test & then placed all the students in reading groups. He seemed upset by the requirements. We were told for homework, to have him scan his finger across the sentences of these black & white scholastic books…example, “I like pizza, I like corn, I like apples, What do you like?” He would get so upset and clearly extremely frustrated by being asked to do this process. The teacher was willing to remove him from the reading groups which seemed to reduce his anxiety some. The class, together, recites out loud the 20+/month sight words they are expected to learn via smartboard. He knows none of them. From my vantage point, this seems to be difficult for him. The teacher says he’s doing “great”. He still occasionally says negative things about his reading ability / confidence. This concerns me greatly & shared this w/ teacher. When the other kids rotate b/w free play time & their reading groups, he’s allowed to do free play but he spends alot of that time @ the computer car games (school considers apart of the free play curriculum). It’s now January & now they will begin journal writing & small sentence writing. I’m certain this will be something he finds frustrating. On one hand, I’m trying to determine whether it’s healthy for him to continue being in this environment or not. Have you ever seen kids move from 1 environment to another mid-year & do well? I’m considering just pulling him out to homeschool w/ more tactile, multisensory methods of learning for the remainder of the year but just not sure what is best. There is more pencil/paper/worksheets as compared tactile, multi-sensory methods of instruction and that is not how he learns best. He often says the paperwork is “too hard”. Last week he said he was scared to go bc of this. I’m very concerned about his confidence; wondering what the environmental impact is of him not being there is )ex:(a number of them are reading accelerated readers). The teacher feels he does not notice this but I don’t get this sense about how he sees himself. He’s very intuitive. I’m not sure what to do but just want to do what is best for my child. For many months now, since October, I have been observing other schools classrooms, visiting them. Most expect these kids to read by spring. And most seem to be. Mine does not though I have done all the things you have posted. Given all that I have said, do you have any recommendations? I believe in respecting where kids are developmentally & it seems to me he simply is not in a place to perform at this level though the teacher seems to think he is doing great.
I have read to my daughter since she was about 2 months old. We have made reading a habit most nights and sometimes dad even joins us. However, she hasn’t seemed to pick up on any words so far. She is being taught to read in school, but I am worried that she isn’t learning as fast as she should. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Is there a way I can help her?
The federal program Even Start is also a wonderful availability to families where children receive early childhood education while their parents participate in parenting, adult education (GED), parent and child interactive time, and PAT. Even Start is usually much more readily accessible to families than Head Start. Program information is available at famlit.org. I would encourage you to provide information on your website for Even Start as well.

As your child becomes a more confident reader, continue to introduce a wide range of books. When it comes to reading aloud, look for two types of books — those that could be read alone and those that are above your child's current independent reading level. With this mix, your child can re-read some of these books independently, while you'll have to do the reading (or at least help) with the challenging ones that allow your child to enjoy a more sophisticated story and learn new words.


Hi, thank you very much! Reading your posts really enlightened me. You have advises that change my view on how to teach my son. Most of the times spent teaching my son reading made me impatient, my son saw me very frustrated which I felt he became frustrated as well. And I felt so sorry every after sessions we had. I was the one so pressured. Thank you for these words “concentrate on making reading fun and enjoyable for both of you” It really tells me that I am the one who lost strategies. Please pray for me as well… Thank you.
I love this post! As a former first grade teacher, I am thrilled to see that the information you shared comes from experience. ;o) I feel exactly the same way you do on all points. One thing I realized when teaching my first graders is that parents would often push their children to read more challenging books, but never allowed for their child’s comprehension to grow with their reading skills. I also think that a huge developmental challenge for these little guys is confidence. My little 6 year olds struggled with confidence and so it was always hard to explain to the parents that they might be reading what seems to be “easy” books, but they can’t grow as a reader until they have the confidence to take chances and move forward. Great post! Thanks for sharing ;o) Consider it Pinned ;o) lol
If you find a reading curriculum that demands that you do every activity in order… that’s a big warning sign.  Are the lessons scripted? Run the other way!  What those curriculum developers don’t understand is that every child is different.  Parents and classroom teachers know their children best.  In Reading the Alphabet, Becky encourages you to pick and choose the activities that interest and meet the needs of your child.
The lessons are all basically the same, but as the child progresses, they start to teach newer techniques such as "READING THE FAST WAY". Admittedly, we stumbled at first. It's a tricky thing to teach a young child to sound it out IN THEIR HEADS, and when the know the word, just say it fast. It took one or two days of frustration before he caught on....and now it's no problem! If you think about it, that's reading. We say the words in our head. This book just adds the step of having them say it out loud, too!
It is at this stage that differences between your child and other children start becoming apparent, inside and outside the school environment. Teachers may have to plan special enrichment activities to meet your child's educational needs, while other children are being taught the basics of reading instruction. This is a positive indication that your child's early reading abilities are in fact the key to academic progress. Your child will already be ahead of her peers, from an academic point of view.
Hi, I have a friend who lets her 6-month old son watch “baby can read” videos every day. She did the same with her older child, who, at 1 year old, is able to “read” words. Her daughter can decode common words such as house, but when the letters are jumbled so as to form another word, she couldn’t read it any more. I now have a one year old daughter. She’s recommending that I expose my baby to it too. What is your opinion on this? on the exposure of children to screen media?
When reading a book to your child, you can do more than just read the story. Use rich vocabulary to describe the pictures. Ask your child questions about what she thinks will happen on the next page. These techniques will improve her storytelling skills. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Show your child how to respect a book by turning the pages gently and carefully. Ask her to place the book back carefully in its place, instead of leaving it on the bed or on the floor.
I just discovered this post and I love all the ideas listed in it, especially #5. I’m a retired 4th and 5th grade teacher and now I spend half the week watching my young grandsons. As a teacher, I loved using multiple intelligence strategies to help plan lessons that would engage my students and help them retain the concepts that were being taught. I now have fun finding and using such strategies to teach my grandsons their letter sounds, and reinforcing the concepts they are learning in their preschool and first grade classrooms. Thanks so much for this informative article!
To make meaningful connections with the printed word, children need rich and varied life experiences. A kid who has never strayed from the inner-city will not get much from a story about farm life. A kid who has never visited an aquarium will not have the background needed to comprehend a text on marine life. Moms and dads can boost comprehension by remembering the mantra: Comprehension is the key that turns sounding out into reading. They can engage in the following activities.

The Berks County Head Start program serves 695 children, located across 17 sites. All attempts are made to enroll children in locations close to their homes. Head Start services include:  school readiness development, parent engagement, social services, health/nutrition services, mental and behavioral health supports, supports for children with disabilities.


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​​My 2 year old son absolutely goes mental for Reading Head Start! He’s actually choosing the members area over television and its the first thing he wants to do when he wakes up after his nap. No word of a lie but I absolutely get why. If I was his age again, I’d  love it too! Just wanted to send out my quick thanks!” *Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. – Carol Ruby
Long, long, loooong series. The first chapter books your child encounters are often part of series that have turned into mega-franchises by now: “Magic Treehouse,” “Flat Stanley,” “Fancy Nancy.” Some of these series have books counting into the hundreds, which makes many parents groan. As strong as the original concepts may be, the freshness factor may indeed be lacking in later titles. Still, if your child is into these, keep them coming. Tip: Borrow, swap and otherwise obtain these books used, as your child races through each one once, never to crack it open again.
I suggest you set aside an hour each night after dinner for reading. The TV is off as well as cell phones and computers. Your family gathers in a cozy room, and everybody reads something of their choice (a novel, magazines, comic books, non-fiction), but nothing work or school related. To make it more enjoyable, serve hot cocoa, popcorn, and dessert from time to time. During the last 10 minutes, have everyone share something about what they read. If this sounds impossible to do because your family is too busy on weekdays, do it just one night a week—perhaps, Friday or Saturday--when everyone isn't so frantic with after school activities and homework.
This is a user-friendly program. You can go through each lesson at your own pace. Every day they came from school they wanted to hop on the computer to learn more because it felt like a game to them. At the same time, it helped them learn to read and write. I got their report card and met with their teachers, they we're both above average in their class.
Makaela is in grade two. She was reading below grade level expectations. That disheartening report told me Makaela needed reading help - now! That's when I found your program. We have recently completed Lesson 18 in Stage Two. She just got her March Progress Report and it states: "Makaela is reading at a beginning grade 2 level. Last week, we were told she would no longer be receiving reading intervention.
Begin giving your child complete stories. Odds are, your child will be in school by the time they are able to read and will be given their own reading material by their teachers. Help them to read these whole stories by encouraging explicit phonics use, and recognizing vocabulary. As their word recognition increases, they’ll be able to more fully understand story plots and meanings.
But perception doesn't always jibe with reality, as Carol Hamlin, of New York City, learned. While her older son, Will (now 12), enjoyed combing through the sports section of the paper on his bus ride to kindergarten, his brother, Tim (now 9), was still struggling to read when he entered second grade. "At first, we were concerned that there was something wrong," says Hamlin. "But it turns out that he only needed time and practice. Now he's in a program for gifted children. He's just a kid who has to do things his own way."
Read Naturally aims to improve reading fluency and understanding in kids and adults. It uses texts, audio CDs and computer software. Usually students listen to a story and then read the same text aloud. The program tracks progress carefully. Students work at their own level and move through the program at their own rate. Usually they work independently. Read Naturally is most often used as an add-on to the main program being used in the general education classroom.

A book about a computer game is still a book. Plenty of reluctant readers are fans of popular computer and video games. Many of these games have book counterparts, which can be a great way to steer your child toward the pleasures of text. There are lots of books featuring Minecraft, Pokémon, Plants vs. Zombies, and the like. From there, you can expand your child’s repertory to graphic novels and comics, and then full-text books.

On one point I disagree with you, and that is your implication that once a child can read on hir own, then henceforth it is clear sailing on the sea of learning all that the public and school libraries hold in their collections. Actually, learning how to read in the beginner sense is just a step on the way to learning how to read in the scholar sense. One guide for that is HOW TO READ A BOOK by Mortimer Adler. Doubtless you can find it at your public library, and Google finds free pdf copies online as well as bound copies for sale in both the original and revised editions and articles about the book, plus an online video of a TV series Adler did on the book long ago.


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The kid stays in the picture. In great middle-grade novels, children are the protagonists; they solve problems, have adventures unmediated by adults and are generally the stars of their own shows. That’s why orphans are so common in classic children’s literature. Even in contemporary middle-grade fiction, parents seem to die or be otherwise unavailable at an improbable rate, forcing child characters to bravely confront challenges.

@B. Leekley, thank you for your very insightful comment. I must say that did not intend to imply that once a child knows how to read there will be no more work to be done, what I simply meant in my article is that once a child knows HOW to read then he or she will have the most basic tool for learning. Thank you for your recommendation as well, I downloaded a pdf copy this weekend and am looking forward to reading it and implementing it into my son’s schooling. I really enjoyed your comments and am very grateful for your support.
Begin giving your child complete stories. Odds are, your child will be in school by the time they are able to read and will be given their own reading material by their teachers. Help them to read these whole stories by encouraging explicit phonics use, and recognizing vocabulary. As their word recognition increases, they’ll be able to more fully understand story plots and meanings.

You can offer them a prize for reading a chapter, read to them before bed until they want a taste of an independent read, and tell them how great reading is. If it's an age thing (ie. your child is eight months old and henceforth, can't even speak full sentences), give them time to adapt to it. Encourage it! Children find role models in parents, teachers, elders, and basically everyone. If you can't spark an interest, appoint someone else to encourage it.

Ultimately, it’s your decision as the parent. The children with a best results and the parents who feel the most rewarding experience, are those who sit down with their child and go through the program. We know that as a parent you may have other responsibilities that take up your time, so we have specifically designed Reading Head Start to be so simple, even a child with zero computer experience can use it on their own as well!
“Phonics” includes learning how to spell those sounds and the various rules that the English language follows.  Phonics is an important components of reading/spelling, but it should never be the main focus.  Again, we are looking to balance our literacy “program” with reading comprehension as the end result.  Learning the rules of phonics is simply a tool that helps a child learn to decode and spell.  I used the Pathways To Reading program in the classroom as my phonemic awareness and phonics program and loved it!  It made learning all of the tricky spellings so much fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it until your child is in kindergarten or first grade.
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