You might have noticed that your child is different from other children or even your friends in terms of learning. Perhaps your preschooler is intensely interested in subject areas that seem advanced or impressive for his age. Maybe your child seems to possess thinking skills that far outpace her biological age. Or maybe your child is picking up on sight words without you ever teaching them to him. Whatever it is you have noticed about your little learner, you might be wondering when kids learn to read. If this is the case, you might not be surprised to find out that the answer isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.
Giftedness is not simply being smart. Gifted children may be intelligent in some areas but not others. They might excel in critical thinking but lag in social and emotional skills. A child who loves and excels naturally in reading might not necessarily enjoy math.
Since learning can happen at any time, it is important to tap into your child’s interests and encourage a love for all subject areas. If your child seems to have advanced verbal and thinking skills, then this article is for you! Let’s take a deeper look at how a parent can identify a gifted reader, and important strategies to use to foster your child’s love for reading while advancing his or her skills!
Tips to Get Kids to Read Good Books
Learn How Yourself
If you don’t love reading yourself, you won’t be able to teach it effectively to others. Just like you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others in an emergency, you need to make sure you’re passionate about reading before trying to share that love with others. Use the other tips below to help you get more interested in reading, not just for the sake of teaching it to kids.
Everything starts with us. I’m sorry.
Kids can detect insincerity and hypocrisy a mile away.
My husband and I recently watched a Liam Neeson movie in which he plays a father who reads all of the same books as his son did in high school. They had a strong bond because of it, and you could too.
Our children should never hear us say that we hate reading, or anything similar.
If you want someone to guide you on how to read a book, you can purchase a copy of Adler & Van Doren’s How to Read a Book for less than $10. If your library has a copy of the book, you can borrow it for free.
Get the Back Story
We tend to like what we know about.
I’m going on a cruise to the Mediterranean with my parents soon. I’ve been watching packing videos on YouTube so that I can make the most of my vacation. My mom has been reading up on the history and literature of the places we’re going to. According to neuroscientists, my mom will enjoy the trip more than I will.
If our brains have a positive outlook towards something, we will respond positively to it as well.
Make sure you are fully knowledgeable about the author and book before you start teaching it to kids. To do this, get an annotated copy, read a biography of the author, look at videos of locations mentioned, and understand the context. If you need to, watch the movie as well.
Develop the Skills of Deep Reading
To develop the skill of deep reading takes time and practice. I already had a masters in teaching English when I discovered a series on reading hard books that Oprah had in her magazine (random, I know). My favorite from the series was this article on Moby Dick.
Birkerts coined the term “deep reading” to describe a slow, meditative reading style in which readers explore a text dream their lives in its vicinity.
This text is saying that the quote is lovely and makes the reader want to buy the book.
Giving people dedicated time and a comfortable place to read will help them develop a love of reading.
This means that children can understand more words than they can say.
This is one of those times where we lose readers. When kids learn to read, adults should continue reading aloud with them.
When we are reading aloud, we can stop to explain what is happening in the text. We can also go back to clarify complex sections.
Not every great book makes for a great read-aloud, but many do.
You can listen to the books together in the car and discuss or define the words as you go.
You don’t need to read the entire book out loud. Sometimes it’s helpful to just read a bit to get the child started. A little taste to whet the palate.
Liz Baker, from Scholastic, noted that even as kids become independent readers, they still love spending time with their parents reading together. This was surprising to see in the study.
This is not a reality tv show that edits the footage to create non-stop action. We have to make sure readers understand the idea of the slow burn.
Children need to be taught the difference between novels with a focus on plot, and those with a focus on character. If they’re only used to stories that move from event to event, they may feel like nothing is happening in a character-driven novel. it’s important to help them understand that often, what is happening is happening inside of someone.
Book Groups Are Great
I have written a piece on how to go about organizing book clubs for kids- they are a great way to get youngsters interested in reading. You can do book groups virtually too, but there is something to be said for the social interaction that comes with meeting face to face with others who have read the same book.
It’s important to find a book group that you gel with. I’ve had some good and bad experiences with book groups in the past. If people don’t read the book, it annoys me and is like a rock in my shoe.
A book group does not have to be formal, and it can be very small. A family can have its own book club.
The goal is to make it social as well as intellectual.
A major benefit of reading great books is the opportunity to connect with other people who have read them. It’s all about sharing. If you want to get more into classics, connect with others.
You can introduce children to classics by reading abridged versions or versions specifically for young readers. This is appropriate and not a cop-out.
The year after my dad gave me Little Women, my mom gave me Bernard Miles’ Favorite Tales from Shakespeare.
I loved the illustrations and the simplified telling.
This text is about the author’s personal experience with teaching Romeo and Juliet. The author mentions that they kept a copy of this particular version of the story in their classroom, and would read it to their students before they were introduced to the play.
The water stains at the bottom of the pages are from love water.
There are many publishers who publish great editions for young readers that include classics, such as the Young Reading Series 2.
Make sure to get books that are the right size for your child. Just as you would get a bike that is the right size for them.
Don’t Worry Too Much About Learning Styles
There is a lot of talk about tailoring instruction to a student’s preferred learning style, meaning if your child is a hands-on learner, you should use more hands-on activities. This is good advice for most kids, but it can bore gifted students if you only use activities they are comfortable with.
Gifted kids love a challenge. They are able to think outside the box from an early age, so it is important to push them outside their comfort zone to keep their minds stimulated. If your child loves creating book-related crafts, that is great, but use the strategy in moderation. Try an activity outside your child’s comfort zone, like writing lyrics to an original song or rap that relates to the themes of the book he or she is reading.
Offer a Menu of Book Ideas
To keep your child engaged in reading, it is important to offer a variety of book types. This should include different genres and formats. Most kids enjoy fiction books, but it is also good to suggest titles that are informational or nonfiction. This way, kids can read about topics they are interested in. For example, if a child loves learning about space and planets, they can read magazines or books on the topic, as well as fiction books that use space as a setting.
In addition to chapter books, you can encourage your kid to read other types of books like graphic novels, comics that are appropriate for their age, magazines, blogs, etc. When you’re giving suggestions to your child, give them a choice instead of just one option. Help them pick out titles by topic, genre, and/or format, and let them choose what they want to read. It’s not surprising if they want to read more than one thing at a time, but make sure they have enough time to read everything and that they’re not overwhelmed.
Connect Reading to Activities Your Child Already Loves
If your child is interested in a particular topic, read about that topic with them. You can also incorporate your child’s interests into the reading process itself. For instance, if your child loves solving problems or mysteries, read a book with them that allows readers to choose their adventure. This will give them a choice in the reading process itself and allow them to go back and make a second choice to re-read the book in a different light. If your child likes to write, allow them to make predictions and write an alternate ending before and after the reading is completed. This will allow them to utilize and put their creative thinking skills to work!
You can introduce your child to how-to books in order to help them with completing interesting projects, like crafts, science projects, or kitchen tasks. Some kids might be interested in books that explain how things work, and use that to fuel their interest in building structures, like model cars, planes, or trains.
To get the most out of a reading, extension activities and higher-level questioning should be planned before, during, and after the reading.
While many kids can easily get lost in a good book for hours on end, it’s important not to let reading go without extension activities or questioning. Sometimes it’s important to let a passion play out in the form of reading, but it’s helpful to keep kids engaged by making connections to the reading, especially for kids who are skilled at reading but aren’t necessarily passionate about it.
1. Start by planning activities that will allow your child to think creatively and analytically using a text as a starting point. 2. If the text is about a subject that isn’t taught in school, like history or science, find related activities to help your child understand how the topic relates to their life. 3. Present your child with a choice of activities to further engage them in the topic and show interest in what they’re learning.
Finally, remember to use questions that make your child think critically before, during, and after reading to encourage comprehension and analytical skills. We have previously written about how to ask questions when reading. In short, make sure to ask questions that allow predictions before reading, questions to check for understanding while reading, and questions about the main idea after reading. Read alongside your child, or have them read independently while you discuss the book afterwards!