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preschooler with picture book
Dr. Joanne Meier
Sound It Out
Joanne Meier

Reading at home: “You either get angry or you can bribe them”

Last week’s blog post about Accelerated Reader generated some great comments, both here on the blog and also on our Facebook (opens in a new window) page. I love that the audience for this blog appears to be a combination of parents, teachers, principals, reading specialists, grandparents, special education teachers, graduate students….

A comment from last week’s post inspired this week’s title. Alex’s comment was a dead-on piece of reality:

From a parent’s point of view, when you are sitting with your kid and encouraging them to read, meanwhile they are tired and bored and guessing at words and making up games, what can you do? You either get angry and say, “just read this, I know you can and it’s getting late and I’m tired!” or you can bribe them….”if you read this, you’ll get some sort of special treat.” I really haven’t seen a deep discussion of how to help during those little times. No practical tips. I hear things like, “pick a regular time each day, continue to read to the kids, make it fun!” but not a lot of practical advice.

Haven’t we all been there at some point with a reluctant reader?

Sadly, the “practical advice” needed isn’t quick and easy to communicate, and it really is darn hard work. But, if I were to pick one piece of advice to help during those times, it would be this: make sure your child is reading at his or her independent level at home.

A child’s independent level is the level at which the material is relatively easy for the student to read, and can be read with at least 95% accuracy. Books at this level aren’t hard for the child to read, and dont require the child to sound out lots of words. Most of the words are read quickly and easily.

When a child spends time reading at his independent level, he’s getting a chance to practice word recognition and word analysis skills (the ones hopefully being taught at school). Repeated readings of the same book over and over again enable each reading to become smoother. Soon, the reading will begin to “sound like talking.” These are all important steps in becoming a fluent reader.

So, get ready to hear those favorite beginning reader books over and over again. Build up a basketful of independent-level books to be read at night, and then read 4 or 6 a night.

A side note: In our house, we “retire” a book when it can be read with eyes closed.

Related: How to Read with a Beginning Reader

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
October 20, 2009