There are plenty of tips about reading out there: Some constitute sound advice, like how acting out a story can improve a child’s reading fluency or how reading aloud to older kids is still beneficial.
However, there are also myths that have floated around for years — and if you believe them, it can hamper your child’s reading progress. Here’s what they sound like, and what the real facts are.
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1. “The faster a child reads, the better they are at reading!”
It's easy to assume that if a child can breeze through a book, they're a strong reader. This isn’t always the case. “We might find out they’re lacking comprehension of the text,” says Allie Thrower, a continuous improvement coach for elementary schools and former elementary school teacher in South Carolina.
There’s power in taking time to savor special moments with books, and encouraging your child to think critically about the text. If your child is having trouble grasping the meaning of certain stories, here are smart strategies to improve reading comprehension.
2. “Reading comes naturally for kids.”
Learning how to read requires a great deal of effort from children, teachers, and, of course, parents. That said, the most important thing to focus on at home is having fun with reading — and reading often — to support what your child is learning at school.
“It sounds so simple to say, 'practice makes perfect,' but with reading, that experience is how you get better,” says Thrower. At home, let children choose the picture books and chapter books they want to read. This will empower them to discover what types of books they love most.
3. “If your child is having trouble reading, they just need more time.”
Some children may need extra support, says Thrower. If you have concerns or questions, it’s important to talk to your child’s teacher, doctor, or another professional. “If you're not giving them the help they need, eventually they'll want to give up,” she says.
What’s more, as a third grade teacher, Thrower saw children who excelled at reading for years but began to struggle upon entering third grade. “In third grade, things really start to shift because we’re not only teaching students how to decode words and to read, but how to go deeper into more challenging texts and make meaning from their reading, too.” If your child is struggling, talk to your child's teacher about how you can provide extra support.
4. “Literacy is all about reading and understanding the words.”
Children actually begin their reading journey by decoding pictures or illustrations, then progress to reading words. Even older kids can read a story through its pictures, something you’ll see with wordless books such as The Arrival or graphic novels like those in the Dog Man series.
Eventually they can retell the story, which shows how well they understand it.
It’s also a common misconception that children must know every letter’s sound before they can read, says Thrower. But in fact, children can begin putting words together before they have a complete grasp on letter-sound relationships. If your child is just beginning to read, BOB Books are great titles to practice with.
Now that you’ve busted these literacy myths, refresh your bookshelf with the books educators actually want your kids to read! Here are exceptional children’s books recommended by teachers.