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Reading habits are essential as a child grows

December 14, 2000

Reading habits are essential as a child grows

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean


Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of parents reading to and with their children.

Reading aloud together helps children develop good habits and helps parents get to know their children better.

Diane Root, a literacy resource teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown, said that unfortunately, parents often stop sharing that experience when their children reach middle school.

There are several things parents can do to prevent that from happening, says Lauren Hackney, a literacy resource teacher at Smithsburg Middle School:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Have a family reading night. At or after dinner, discuss the book you're reading. Show your children the front cover and ask them to guess what it's about. Provide some background on the book. Share some excerpts. Suspenseful parts will leave them intrigued.

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The message you'll send is that reading is fun and interesting.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Continue reading aloud to your children, even as they reach the teenage years.

"It's important for them to hear the way you verbally interpret the written word," Hackney says.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Ask your child to recommend a book or take note of what he's reading and pick up a copy of it for yourself.

If you read a book suggested by him, it validates him as a reader.

"Kids love it when they share a book with you," Hackney says.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If your child is a reluctant reader, consider nontraditional materials to jump-start his interest. Don't mimic a classroom environment. Be casual. Ask off-the-cuff questions.

How-to-draw books are popular with preteens and teens, Hackney says. These books show how to draw a picture by breaking it into squares and showing how to do each part.

If your teen likes video games, try reading the manual together and have him explain it to you.

For teens who like to sew, cook or bake, encourage that interest with a cookbook or a sewing kit. If they to follow directions, they're reading.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Limit TV, computer and telephone time so there is time for reading.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Visit bookstores and libraries with your child. Let them see that you value reading and use the library as a resource.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Let your child get his own library card. Hackney's son had one at age 5. He's 7 now, and she lets him get seven books - one for each year of his life. It's easier to remember how many books you've signed out if you have a set number to keep track of, she says. For middle school students, this fosters independence and responsibility.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Take turns reading. Tell your child to read a page and then you can read a page.

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