Tips for Helping Beginning Readers


While your child reads to you, follow along. If she gets stuck on a word, let her sound it out if the word sounds the way it is spelled (run, find) but tell her what the word is if it doesn’t sound the way it is spelled (knot) or she just can’t figure it out. You can help her by asking questions (“What sound does the letter “d” make?”).

Help your child find clues by looking at the pictures. Encourage him to predict what will happen next in the story; it will help him be ready to read the words.

Don’t correct your new reader too often. If your child is getting frustrated or discouraged, ease off with corrections, and perhaps read a portion of the story to him. Then let him take over again.

If possible, wait until the end of a sentence to correct a word she has read incorrectly. This allows her to read to the end and perhaps she’ll hear that the sentence doesn’t make sense. You can point to the missed word and ask her to read it again.

If your child is losing her place on the page frequently, suggest that she follow along with her finger, or place a ruler under each sentence.

Praise your child occasionally, perhaps at the end of a long page of print, or at the end of a chapter. Keep telling him what a good job he is doing, what a good reader he is. Don’t dwell on mistakes, or use negative comments like, “that’s wrong.” Instead, say “try again,” if he reads a word incorrectly.

Most important, have fun! Share how enjoyable reading can be. (“That was a funny story, wasn’t it?”) Give your young reader lots of positive reinforcement. (“You’re doing great!”)

Remember that the interest level and comprehension level for most beginning readers are far above their reading level, so it is important to continue to read to them. Beginning reader books are good for practicing reading, but are not always food for the imagination. This is a great time to introduce your child to the rich literature of longer chapter books and more complex folktales and fairy tales. Boys especially seem to be attracted to the very detailed information that can be found in non-fiction books. Explore the library and show your child that there is a world of wonder waiting for us in the pages of books!

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