How to Tell If Your Child Is Ready for Chapter Books

when is a child ready for chapter books

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Opening the door to chapter books is an exciting milestone for both you and your child. It means they are ready to make a giant leap into faraway places and expand their imagination even further, with less reliance on pictures.

There are several skills children need to acquire before transitioning to longer chapter books. Diving in before your child is ready can risk diminishing their enthusiasm for reading and lower their reading confidence.

Here are some indicators that your child is ready to start reading longer chapter books:

1. They remember what they have read

Chapter books usually require breaking up a story over several sittings, so it’s important that your child can remember what they have read a few days, or even a week later.

The day after you have read a new book with your child, ask them questions about the story, the characters, and the events. A good idea is to encourage them to tell the story – in the right order – to a younger sibling or a relative. You can also help your child role-play the story using fun props, or to draw picture of key events and arrange them into chronological order. Read tips on how to tell if your child is reading for meaning.

2. They can make predictions about stories

Part of the excitement of reading chapter books is anticipating what might happen next. The ability to make predictions about a story signifies that your child has the comprehension skills needed to fully understand what they read. To encourage your child to make predictions, stop periodically while reading to ask them what might happen next. Readers with strong comprehension skills will be able to take what they have already read and use that information to make predictions.

3. They can picture stories in their head without visual aids

Chapter books rely less on pictures and illustrations to create details about a story. Before reading chapter books with your child, see if your child can sum up or illustrate a story they’ve just read without looking at any of the pictures.

4. They know how to choose books

Reading longer stories means that your child needs to be able to stay interested long enough to reach the end. By the time your child transitions to chapter books, they would ideally have a preference, whether it be a particular genre (e.g. comedy, adventure, history) or subject matter. Let them choose which books they want to read and help them choose by looking at the cover, reading the back blurb, scanning the text (font size, paragraph length), and deciding if it’s a book they want to read.

5. They are equipped with enough vocabulary

Your child should know enough words to embark on longer chapter books. Reading a book with too many unfamiliar words can hurt their confidence and motivation. Remember to use the five finger rule before starting a new book. Your child should also be able to use context clues to determine the meaning of words they don’t know. Try these tips to build your child’s vocabulary at home.

Some other tips to consider when introducing your child to chapter books:

  • start with shorter chapters – avoid taking on too much too soon, and ease in with shorter reading sessions
  • choose books with some pictures – chapters books with pictures and illustrations will ease the transition
  • talk about the book and make predictions – between sittings, have daily conversations about the story and what you think might happen next
  • show them how to recap – pick up where you left off between sittings by showing your child how to revisit the last chapter and refresh your memory
  • don’t move away from picture books – continue reading picture books with your child and maintain reading variety

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10 Things to Do When Your Child Isn’t Reading Fluently

help child read fluently

Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression. In order to become a confident reader who reads for meaning and enjoyment, children need to be able to read fluently, both silently and aloud.

Children often receive a lot of support in learning how to decode, but once they master the basics many receive few strategies to help them with fluency. A lack of fluency can make stories disjointed and lead to a great deal of frustration, even discouraging the reader from reading altogether.

Here are ten things you can do to help your child become a fluent and confident reader.

1. Know the signs – Be aware of clues that your child is having problems with fluency. Common signs include reading without expression, stumbling while reading aloud, reading aloud very slowly or at a mixed rate, ignoring punctuation, and moving the mouth while reading silently.

2. Make a habit of ‘buddy’ reading – The easiest and most effective way to help your child improve their fluency is by sitting down together and reading. Pair up as reading buddies every day, and take turns reading aloud. Your reading will provide a model of what fluent reading sounds like.

3. ‘Copycat’ (echo) reading – While reading together, ask your child to play ‘copycat’. Read one passage at a time and have your child read it back to you, matching your voice and intonation. This provides them with a vocal model of fluent reading that they can emulate.

4. Follow the finger – Encourage your child to follow the words on the page with their finger as you read them aloud. This will help them build stronger connections between spoken words and their written form.

5. Learn certain texts by heart – Learning and reciting short and fun texts, such as song lyrics, nursery rhymes and poems are great for building your child’s confidence, and helps them to become familiar with the rhythm of fluent reading.

6. Take breaks – If your child is stumbling a lot, let them rest. Forcing them to continue reading will only increase their frustration. Instead, close the book and acknowledge how hard they are trying. You can also turn back to a page they feel more confident about, and invite them to read it again.

7. Use audio books – Listening to what a fluent and expressive reader sounds like is important for building fluency. Audio books are a great tool for exposing your child to fluent reading, and are particularly helpful for reluctant readers, who can listen to the audio while following the text on the page.

8. Reread best-loved books – Practice makes perfect. It doesn’t matter how often your child wants to read a certain book; rereading the books they love makes valuable practice for becoming a fluent reader. With each reading, your child will become faster, more confident, and more expressive.

9. Throw in the theatrics – Dramatic play is a wonderful way to build essential early reading skills. Help your child write a short script and have fun rehearsing the lines. Invite other family members and friends to join in, and don’t forget to be silly and expressive to model fluency.

10. Hit record – Use a tape recorder or voice recording app to create audio books at home. Your child can read a book they love, or read aloud an original story they’ve come up with. You can even take turns reading aloud certain passages. This is a great motivator for your child to perfect their pace, expression, volume, and accuracy.

ABOUT READING EGGS

Reading Eggs helps children aged 3-13 improve their reading fluency with fun instructional online activities and e-books. The program builds fast and effortless word recognition in a highly motivating way with interactive animations, fun songs and characters, and exciting rewards.

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The Awesome Benefits of Comic Books for Children

benefits comic books for kids

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For a long while comic books have gotten a pretty bad rap. They were the sneaky distraction that schoolchildren disguised inside the pages of ‘real books’. People saw them as a more simplified version of reading; something that couldn’t offer the same complexity or developmental benefits that ‘serious books’ could.

But now parents and educators are beginning to see the hidden benefits of the humble comic book (or graphic novel). Professor Carol Tilley from the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois says, “A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words.

“Some kids, yes. But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words.”

Here are just some of the awesome benefits of reading comic books:

1. They turn reluctant readers into ravenous readers.

One of the best and most obvious benefits of comic books is that they can be more fun and easier to read than regular books. This can be extremely appealing to young children who would otherwise have little interest in reading traditional forms of books. Many children who think they hate reading respond particularly well to comic books that are based on movies or television shows they enjoy, such as Scooby-Doo and Astro Boy.

2. They give struggling readers confidence.

Comic books don’t intimidate struggling readers with an overwhelming page of text. They usually offer short and easy-to-read sentences, alongside other visual and text cues (e.g. character sighs, door slams etc.) for context. They’re also helpful for children with learning difficulties; children with autism can learn a lot about identifying emotions through the images in a comic book. Children with dyslexia, who may find it frustrating to finish a page in a traditional book, often feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete a page in a comic book. And as many of us know, accomplishment plays a key role in building confident and fluent readers.

3. They increase your child’s inference.

Observation refers to seeing something happening. Inference refers to figuring out something based on evidence and reasoning. It’s an important component of successful comprehension and a valuable life skill for all young children to develop. Comic books can increase inference in young children by encouraging them to “read between the lines” and infer meaning from the images. Children who read comics often need to infer what is not written by the narrator, which is a complex reading strategy. Comic books also help children become familiar with sequencing and understanding succinct language.

4. They expand your child’s bank of words.

When many people think of comic books, they probably don’t take into account the repository of words used on every page, or the opportunity they offer to strengthen vocabulary skills. Comic books give children a unique opportunity to acquire new vocabulary in combination with context cues, that is, information from pictures or from other text cues to help children decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words.

5. They can be a valuable accompaniment for other learning disciplines.

Comic books that explore or touch on historical events, classic tales, wildlife, nature, positive relationships and more can provide a valuable supplement to other areas of learning. For example, if your child is learning about the ancient Egyptians, a comic book story set in ancient Egypt may use pictures to explain important period details, such as clothing, food, rituals, farming, construction, trade, commerce, and cultural and social traits. By taking in a combination of words and illustrations, many children obtain the big picture more easily and with more enthusiasm than they would from using textbooks alone.

6. There are many different comic book genres to suit all tastes.

Comic books aren’t just about superheros and villains. And they’re certainly not just for boys. Comic books and graphic novels are spread across many different genres, including comedy, drama, sci-fi and fantasy, and there is bound to be something to suit all tastes, ages and reading levels. There may even be something that you might like to get into yourself, or enjoy together with your child, snuggled up before bedtime!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters, exciting rewards and over 2000 e-books, start your child’s reading journey with a special free trial offer today.

Sharing Childhood Reading Memories with Your Children

introduce child to classic literature

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” — Garrison Keillor

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We all have those cherished books that made a big impression on us growing up. Many of us look back on them with the hopes to one day share them with our own children, and impart the same values we picked up from their pages.

Sharing your best-loved reading memories is a powerful way to bond with your child, inspire their love of literature from an early age, and create brand new reading memories together.

Here are some tips for sharing your personal literary treasures with your children.

Don’t expect the exact same response – No matter how dearly you hold onto your childhood classics, the truth is that times have changed, and so have children. Your child may simply not share the same passion for your highly prized children’s books, or it may not resonate with them in quite the same way.

If your child isn’t responding to your childhood classics, there’s no shame in not finishing the book. It’s possible that they are just not ready for the themes, language or context of the story. Nevertheless, a great read is still a great, especially if your treasured childhood books include classic literature, such as Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach, which brings us to our next point…

Choose quality literature (usually the classics) – Some of your childhood picks might include obscure titles that have stuck with you for a very specific reason. Maybe it was an old paperback you found with your parents at an old discount store, or a lesser known title that appealed to your particular tastes or unique sense of fun (e.g. gags, gore and grossness, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea!)

However, what makes a book a classic is its ability to tell a good story and present a deep understanding of human nature. Classic stories transmit timeless values, exhibit the beauty of language, and spark a sense of wonder and imagination. Books like The Secret Garden, Wind in the Willows and The Ugly Duckling promote universal values that have stood the test of time and continue to make compelling reads for young readers today. Choosing quality literature will increase the chances of your child sharing in the same joys and learnings as you did growing up. Read more tips on how to choose the perfect children’s books for your child.

Talk about the story as you go, and explain things if you need to – Stories from our childhood may use more unfamiliar words, language and themes than usual. Some of it may even be outdated. But this shouldn’t be a big problem. Explain the story as you go, and modify the language if you need to. Once you’re halfway through and your child is used to the style, it won’t be as necessary. If it’s a chapter book, read a chapter at a time, especially for children five and under – short sharp bursts will help them maintain interest. Read some helpful ways to make sure your child is reading for meaning.

Pausing every now and again to talk about the story is also a great way to check your child’s understanding and improve their comprehension skills. Talk to them about how much you enjoyed the book when you were a child, and relate it back to moments in your childhood. You can even show them the original versions if you have them. Don’t worry about going on tangents – the point of sharing these treasures with your child is to create positive reading experiences for them. By turning reading into a fun bonding experience, your child is likely to associate reading with positive memories – a helpful step in learning to read for pleasure.

If it didn’t scare you, it will probably be OK for your child too – A lot of parents worry that some of their best-loved children’s books are too dark. Think Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Lemony Snicket, and even some classic nursery rhymes like Rock-a-bye Baby and Jack and Jill.

Nobody knows your child as well as you do. If you think some of your classic children’s titles will keep them awake over the next few nights, definitely steer clear until they’re older. But generally children can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. Children’s author and teacher Kelly Barnhill summed it up brilliantly when she said, “[Kids] are darker and creepier and far more sinister than anything that you will find on display of a Barnes & Noble … In their imaginations, villains lurk under the stairs, assassins hide behind shower curtains, and tentacled monsters slurp along the basement floor.” If your classic stories appealed more to your sense of curiosity and adventure, rather than fear, chances are it will be the same for your child too.

Save some of the classics for grandparents – We know how much you’d like to share every single one of your childhood classics, but remember that grandparents can play a big role in building your child’s love of reading too. If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents in their life, encourage them to start their own reading traditions together. Have your child’s grandparents introduce special books that are only read when they’re together.

Read together, even if they can read independently – So your little one has already mastered the art of getting lost in a good book. But that doesn’t matter. If your child is already reading independently, it’s still great to set aside some special reading time together every now and then to bond and continue building positive reading experiences with them, even into adolescence if you’re one of the lucky ones. Do bedtime story nights for as long as your child welcomes it and after that, watch movies together based on your best-loved books, or enjoy audio books for long family road trips.

Some classics to get you started

  • The Velveteen Rabbit
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  • Cinderella
  • Hansel and Grethel
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Frog Prince
  • The Ancient Mariner
  • The Railway Children
  • The Snow Queen
  • The Stonecutter
  • The Travels of Tom Thumb
  • How the Leopard Got Its Spots
  • The Golden Goose

SPECIAL OFFER: Reading Eggs is the online literacy program that makes reading fun for children aged 3-13. The Reading Eggspress Library includes over 2000 children’s e-books, including all of the classic titles listed here. You can claim your special FREE trial offer of Reading Eggs here.

5 Everyday Activities to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory with Reading

learning memory reading

 

When you sit down to read a book, your brain is recalling and using a great deal of information to understand the text. This is because reading requires us to draw on relevant information stored in our memory in order to gain meaning.

A good working memory is important for reading and achieving success in school. Working memory refers to how we manipulate information stored in our short-term memory. Children use this all the time to learn, read, and follow everyday instructions.

Improving your child’s working memory is a powerful way to improve their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Here are five activities you can do at home to improve your child’s working memory.

1. Play category games

When words and ideas are put into categories, they become much easier to remember. Several studies have found that when category cues are applied, children are twice as likely to remember associated words than if left to recall them on their own.

You can play category games with your child after reading a book as a helpful way to recall new words and ideas. If the book features animals, ask your child to name as many animals as they can think of, including any new ones they may have learned from the book. You can look at grouping them in different ways, such as by where they live or their number of legs. If the book is about Egyptian history, ask them to list words under categories such as diet, buildings, rituals, or fashion. This type of associative learning is a great way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary.

2. Connect feelings to information

Children remember things most effectively by processing information in as many ways as possible, especially if they have processed it emotionally. If your child is reading a book about bird migration, ask them to imagine what it would be like to fly thousands of miles to find food and warmth. Finding ways to connect what your child is trying to remember with things they are already familiar with is a powerful way to help them learn new information.

3. Talk about what you have read

Soon after you have finished reading a book, ask your child to give you a summary of the events that took place. Encourage them to draw pictures, write their summary, or simply tell you what happened in chronological order. You can also ask your child questions to reinforce key information in the book. Encourage a post-reading discussion by asking questions like, “Where did the dog find his family?”, “Why do you think the girl felt sad about leaving school?”, or “What would have happened if the day was rainy instead of sunny?”

4. Encourage your child to take notes

To enhance working memory while reading, young children can get into the habit of becoming active readers. Encourage your child to underline, highlight or jot down key notes in the margin while reading lengthy books. They might also use sticky notes on pages to write down and group together their ideas about the text. Another great strategy to help your child understand and recall what they have read is by reading the text out loud. By reading aloud together, you can take “mental notes” by pausing and placing an emphasis on key words and ideas, or discussing the meaning of a particular word or event in the text.

5. Prepare

Before your child sits down to read a book, help them prepare by priming their memory. Give your child an idea of what they can expect and what to look out for in a book by discussing the vocabulary and overall topic beforehand. By preparing your child before reading a lengthy text, you are making it easier for them to put the information into context.

Working memory is a skill that can be strengthened over time, and activities like these can be easily built into your child’s daily life. Do you have any tips for boosting your child’s working memory with reading?

ABOUT READING EGGS

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.