Raising A Reader: How To Help a Struggling Reader

How To Help A Struggling Reader

I love this image! It’s my daughter when she was little. She’s twelve now, and of course she’s still cute, but this picture just melts my heart. She’s so little! Okay, back on track! When I taught first grade parents always asked me what they could do to help their child become a better reader. Even now, parents ask me how to help a struggling reader. My answer is always the same! READ to her!

Reading Aloud to Children

Did you know that in my state government officials plan for prisons based on first grade reading ability? That’s right. Crazy, huh? They take the reading ability of the first graders to plan for future prison needs. It’s a little scary to think about! If a child struggles to read through third grade, then there are resources set aside to help her. After third grade, the resources quickly decrease. If a child still struggles to read when she gets to junior high then there are very few resources to help, and even good teachers have moved on. It’s usually not a priority.  So what can parents do?

Today’s tip on how to help a struggling reader is the easiest and the most fun!

READ aloud to your children!!

Reading to your kids every day is the best way to help them enjoy reading. What is better than piling on the couch or the bed and enjoying a great book together? Not only is it good quality time together, it also teaches them to enjoy reading. It can be picture books or chapter books, depending on their age, but either way…….Just Read!!!

If we could get our parents to read to their preschool children fifteen minutes a day, we could revolutionize the schools. ~Dr. Ruth Love, Superintendent, Chicago Public Schools (1981)¹

The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.²

When my daughter (the one in the above photo) was in second grade, she really struggled with reading. She was my third child and I hate to admit that we had gotten busy and had not been as good at reading every day. At parent teacher conference her teacher told us how much she was struggling and I was surprised. I hadn’t realized! So what did we do? We started reading. A lot. I read aloud to her daily, and usually more than once a day. We read picture books and chapter books. I read aloud and I had her read aloud. 

What happened? She began to improve. It didn’t happen over night, but by fourth grade she was back where she needed to be. So good, in fact, that she read all of the Harry Potter books in fourth grade. She is now in sixth grade and is doing great. Her teacher gave her a goal of 40 books this year and she has read well over that. Reading aloud works to help struggling readers! They love the time together, they hear your pronunciation, your fluency, and your enjoyment. Struggling readers also learn vocabulary words and background knowledge. They learn that reading is enjoyable.

What about older kids?

My kiddos are getting big! My oldest is 16 (ahhh!), but they still ask me every night if we can read. It’s my favorite time of the day! I have all four kids in the same room with me, and I have their full and undivided attention! Start when they’re little and make it a priority. Beware though! Once you start they won’t want to stop! If they’re big now, it’s ok, start now! There are fun books to read to older kids too! We’re reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman at the moment. Before that we read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. (Just in case you’re wondering, the book is WAY better than the movie!)

I hope this helps you to know how to help your struggling reader! Here are some of the books I’ve read to my kids over the years. Click on the image to read my review!

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood   The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks   Frindle by Andrew Clements   The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary   The BFG by Roald Dahl   Mr Poppers Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater   Charlotte's Web by E.B. White   The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl    the chocolate touch   the hundred dresses   The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 

¹The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease p. xi

²The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease p. 3

This post was first published on 2/4/14; updated on 5/3/18.

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