Monday, April 20, 2015

Question: How do I get my third grader to read regular books?

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A while ago, a parent told me her third-grade son loved to read comic books, but she couldn't get him to read regular chapter books. She was frustrated by this and asked me for suggestions to get him interested in reading the "regular books." I asked her why she felt he needed to start reading those "regular books," and her response was, "His fluency scores are terrible and he is behind on his reading scores for his grade level."
As you may have guessed from previous posts, I'm not a big fan of the way the Common Core has been implemented. This is one of my biggest pet peeves regarding teaching to the Common Core - the emphasis on test scores. So your child is not reading up to standard; is he at least reading something? If so, then that is a good thing - even if it isn't quite a literary classic and is more pictures than words. The important question is "What kind of comic book is he reading?"

If he's reading Garfield or Calvin and Hobbs then introduce him to funny animal stories like Bunnicula or Dragonbreath. Into Pokemon or Ninjago? Try The Secret Zoo series or Night of the Ninjas from the popular Magic Treehouse series.(Side note: for those of you with emergent readers, the Pokemon franchise does make leveled reading books that are not graphic novels.)

©Meggan Haller for The New York Times
You may find your young reader to be reluctant to start reading books with more words than pictures. One way to get him interested is to read the book to him. Studies show that reading to children early on gives them a head start in language learning. But the benefits don't stop once a toddler hits elementary school. Reading books that interest him but may be a little above his level will encourage him to improve his reading skills. It is also a great way to introduce critical thinking skills by being able to discuss a favorite book together. But the most important reason is kids just love your attention, and reading to them is a comforting activity.

Children can be picky readers, and you may find yourself starting a bunch of stories but not finishing them. Don't be discouraged. That ONE book will show up and it will open up new worlds that your child will WANT to explore.If you need more suggestions on books for your child, or any other topic, make a comment below and I will be happy to discuss your needs.

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