“My child is reading chapter books.” I think that just saying these words out loud makes many parents feel an enormous sense of pride about their children. Many parents see this reading ability as some sort of developmental milestone. Teachers would definitely disagree with you. As a former Kindergarten teacher and now First Grade teacher, one comment that I hear every year at Open House is a parent telling me that his/her child is reading chapter books. More often than not, when I get this same child and read with him/her, my perspective is very different than the parent’s perspective. When a child shows interest in reading chapter books, parents’ interaction with their young readers usually tapers off. Parents mistakenly think that if their child is reading chapter books, that they don’t need to read with them anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth! Young readers need role models and daily interaction with an adult while they read. Young readers who are reading chapter books on their own, often become sloppy readers who invent words, add words where they don’t belong and omit words. If you think that your child is reading chapter books, LISTEN TO HIM/HER READ. Look and listen to see if your child:
- Stops appropriately at all punctuation marks
- reads all words as written
- does not add words that are not there
- does not omit words that are there
- reads with enthusiasm, not a monotone voice
Stop your young reader and ask these questions:
- Who are the characters in the book
- What is the setting
- Start at the beginning and tell me everything that has happened so far
- What do you think will happen next
- What does this book make you think about?
A good reader will be able to answer comprehension questions about the book without any hesitation. Parents, before you tell a teacher, friend, relative that your child is reading chapter books, please be sure that he/she is not only reading words, but really is able to comprehend ALL that has been read. Just being able to read the words, is really only the beginning of reading.