Sunday, July 4, 2010

Raise-a-Reader Workshop - The Primary School Years

I have just attended the Raise-a-Reader workshop to enlighten and educate parents on how they can play a supporting role to raise the reading levels of children. Here are the key learning points.

General Comments

It was a very information-packed session and it spanned 2 hours. The speakers obviously have done much research and put together a very comprehensive information package for parents to refer to after the session. However, due to the very wide range of topics covered - almost too exhaustive for me - it was a challenge to remain attentive throughout the entire session. The speakers did try to engage the audience by asking questions but there was limited response as the question only called for a one-liner kind of answer.

Perhaps, the speakers could divide the audience into groups of 5 and allow them to discuss about the challenges that they faced in raising a reader in their child. Afterall, the maximum number of audience was 30 and this breaking up session will enable parents to network and learn from others. This would also promote more response with the speakers as the audience would find "safety-in-number".

Key Learning Points

The speakers shared about three categories of readers - namely, Emergent, Early and Fluent Reader. To nurture the spark in reading, do turn off the television and other distractions and be familiar with the stories that your child would be reading. For those who are reading bedtime stories to their children, be anitmated in your story telling. Encourage your children to read through leading by example and have a little library corner at home.

For those with emergent and early readers, you can start with books on rhyming, engage in reading activities with your child, play word and sound games. Do visit the library and bookshops and allow your child to choose the books. Allow your child to ask questions anytime during the storytelling sessions and not for questions to be raised at the end of it.

I particularly like the recommended booklist for the different categories of readers. As a rule of thumb, emergent readers would be around age of 6 to 8 years old. Early readers in the 8-10 age group and fluent readers would be those aged 10-12.

Books for The Emergent Reader
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin (JP MAR-[BA])
- Chicka, Chicka Boom, Boom by Bill Martin (JP MAR)
- Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley (JP RIL)
- Who Took The Cookie From the Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass (JP LAS)
- Dr Seuss, the Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss (JP SEU)

Books for The Early Reader
- Are You My Mother? by P.D Eastman (JP EAS)
- Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (JP LOB)
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura J Numeroff (JP NUM)
- Amelia Bedelia (Highly Recommended) by Peggy Parish (JP PAR)
- Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (JP 582 CAR)

An example of Word Game (taken from Riddle Rhymes by Charles Ghigna, J 818 GHI) which the child would enjoy:

Here I sit upon the shelf.
I'm not a toy. I'm not an elf.

Yet I can take you far away.
To any place, night or day.

We'll travel to each foreign land.
Yet I will stay right in your hand.

My Friends and I, you will see,
Are full of facts and fantasy.

So pick me up and take a look.
Now you know - I am a ...... BOOK.

Other resources which you may be interested in would include searching for relevant materials using the keywords "kids crossword" and "enchanted learning".

Books for The Fluent Reader

What I find most heartening here is that a fluent reader does not agree with everything that is read. So the fear about the fantasy element in books such as Harry Potter may not be well-founded. But each child is different, as parents, we need to also monitor the child's behavior and prescribe the action needed accordingly.

Some recommended books include:
- Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown (JS BRO)
- Two Times the Fun by Beverly Cleary (JS CLE)
- The Genie in the Book by Cindy Trumbore (JS TRU)
- Revolting Rhymes (Highly Recommended) by Roald Dahl (J 821 DAH)

Parents can also google for American Library Association for recommended booklist.

Reluctant Reader

The most challenging type of readers would be the reluctant readers. They tend to say "I Can't", "I Don't Know How", "I'd Rather", "I Don't Care" and etc.

To encourage them to read, we need to be creative. Does a book necessarily mean one with words? No! There are currently pictorial books for children that would tell a story without words. Magazines and graphic novels are books too! Unlike the yesteryears where graphic novels or comics as they are also known, were plagued with bad English, today, they are pretty well-written.

Follow the interest of the child. E.g. if he likes cars, get books or magazines on cars. While majority of children enjoy visual learning, some would prefer sound and action. So we can try audio books and engage in physical activities such as acting out the scene in the book.

More Resources

For those who are interested to know more, you can access for a copy of "Reader Profiling" brochure.

I find this piece of information the most useful, we can access a list of e-books from the NLB e-sources. It is at Click on Register on the left menu. Afterwhich, you can log in and click on Browse - For Children and access the TumbleBook Library (Story Books) for P1 to P3 pupils, Tumble Readables (Chapter Books) for P4 pupils, Tumble Readables (Middle School Readers or YA/Teen) for P5 pupils and Tumble Readables (Children Classics) for P6 pupils.

I hope you will find the above materials useful. I am going to the eresources now...

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