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Better Young Readers With 6 Key Strategies


By Dr. Shari Robertson, Ph.D.

There’s certainly a reason that reading is the first of the three R’s. Reading is a fundamental skill needed to function in today’s society. There are few tasks that don’t involve some form of reading, which is why it’s so important for kids to learn early. Many child readers excel in reading benchmarks by the mid-elementary years, but according to the National Black Child Development Institute, studies show that only 15% of black children read proficiently in 4th grade. It’s very beneficial to a child’s learning when parents get involved, but encouraging young readers sounds very hard for some. So. here are a few learning strategies to build up your young readers.

Strategy #1: Echo Reading

Echo Reading is a great way to help children understand that what you’re saying matches the words on the page. It highlights and facilitates vocabulary development and encourages interactions while reading.

This works best with books with short phrases, bright pictures and engaging storylines. Read a phrase of text and cue your child by saying “Copy me!” or “Say what I say!”

Strategy #2: Paired Reading

Paired Reading is a common strategy parents use where the adult reads aloud, and then invites the child to read a portion of the text. Before asking your child to pair read, read the book at least five times.

While you’re reading, cue your child by using pausing, stressing or information when it’s his or her turn. If your child doesn’t read, keep things going while providing more opportunities for paired reading. Books with a strong rhyme or repetition are great for this activity.

Strategy #3: Friendly Questions

Using friendly, open-ended questions to encourage participation, promote critical thinking and longer verbalizations. It’s important to remember that there are no wrong answers. Keep questions open(e.g.: What do you like to do outside?) rather than close-ended where only one answer is possible.

Strategy #4: Predicting

Find books that offer opportunities for both visual and auditory prediction. Be sure to preview books before sharing them with children so that you’re aware of all the prediction cues in the story. Once again, there are no wrong answers.

Strategy #5: Wordless Books

Otherwise known as picture books, wordless books build critical thinking and language skills by encouraging children to create their own story lines. This strategy is particularly useful for parents whose first language is not English or parents who don’t read altogether.

It’s important to ask your child questions about what’s happening on each page, encouraging them to tell the story themselves. This strategy is all about keeping your child engaged.

Strategy #6: Reader’s Theatre

Reader’s Theatre is a great way to get children to really dive into a story. Instead of just focusing on seeing and hearing the story, Reader’s Theatre lets children act out the storyline.

Find books that encourage movement. Let your child actively engaged by using props, role playing or anything else that comes to mind.


Dr. Shari Robertson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Robertson is also the Vice President for Academic Affairs in Speech-Language-Pathology for ASHA. She has presented hundreds of workshops and seminars nationally and internationally and authored numerous publications on topics related to effective intervention for communication and literacy as well as innovation, leadership, and personal development. Dr. Robertson is also the CEO of Dynamic Resources, which specializes in evidence-based clinical materials for developing language and literacy, including children’s literature targeting specific oral and written language skills.

6 Strategies to Build Better Readers – http://pages.presencelearning.com/library-shari-robertson-building-better-readers.html (Download the eBook)

National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) – http://www.nbcdi.org/what-we-do/literacy

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