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How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike

Esme Raji CodellAlgonquin Books; $18.95

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All parents are excited when their children go beyond “pretend reading” to join the ranks of real readers. While educators and experts differ on which approach works best, all agree that parental involvement is crucial to developing a love of books.

Can we really teach children to read before they can walk or talk? According to How to Teach Your Baby to Read, we can teach infants to recognize words even before their first birthday. Citing child brain development research, Glenn and Janet Doman advocate a flashcard method to teach kids under the age of six, progressing through words, phrases, and sentences to the big prize—books! The authors say that if you make the print as big and bold as that in TV commercials and focus on their reading “game,” you’ll gain not just a new reader in the family, but also a connection with your child that will last for years to come.

Parenting a Struggling Reader advocates a phonics-based method to help children learn to read. While the book focuses on struggling readers, the phonics philosophy (sounding out words) can benefit any child. The authors, Susan Hall and Louisa Moats, address four skills they say kids need to become successful readers: vocabulary, familiarity with books, language comprehension, and matching sounds with symbols. They also include chapters on advocating for children when they need additional reading help at school. If you think your child needs special assistance but are told to wait because he will “catch up,” they recommend asking plenty of questions and considering all the options to get your child reading.
A great resource for encouraging young readers to broaden their horizons is How to Get Your Child to Love Reading. Esme Codell, a former teacher and librarian, takes a literature-based approach to reading. Her book has great tips for children of all ages. She believes that parents need to find innovative ways to connect their kids with books by following the children’s interests and hobbies. Codell’s guide includes many helpful topics, such as “Children’s Books Basics,” “Raise a Reader,” and “Must Reads by the Time You’re 13.” She encourages parents to read books to their kids from the time they are babies and has good ideas to help get young readers through the teen years, including reading-related projects. According to Codell, one of the main goals of reading is to use stories to help children celebrate our commonalties as well as our differences.

These three books offer a spectrum of approaches to raising a reading child, but there is one common theme: to help children become the best readers they can be, parents must take the time to share the magic of reading with their kids.

Reviewed by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, an adoptive mother, attorney, and freelance writer who lives with her husband and daughter in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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