12th February 2016

So here we are at the end of my 3 part series called Investing In Reading.  What have we gained so far?


Part 1 was all about taking the time to read with your child – recognising that time as an investment and a priority.


Part 2 was where we discovered that reading is about making meaning and how that affects how we read with our child.


Part 3 is going to be about how we read with pre-readers and older, more competent readers.


Sound good?  Here we go.

Believe it or not, children begin reading well before they set foot into a school. Pre-reading begins when kids begin to recognise that written words or drawn images carry meaning.  About twelve months ago, I went into the bank with Sophie who was then three.  She saw the sign that had the picture of a helmet with a red line through it and said “no helmets”.  I replied with “good reading darlin'”.  It seems weird because it was actually an icon but that’s where reading begins.  Most kids know that a big yellow M means Maccas don’t they?  That’s what reading and writing is all about – a symbolic representation of an idea.

So – what else do pre-readers do?

Pre-readers know how to hold a book the right way around.  You can encourage this by playfully trying to start reading a book upside down or from the back!

Pre-readers know that both the words and the pictures contribute to the meaning.  You can foster this by pointing at pictures and commenting by saying things that make these connections: “Oh look, he does look sad.” or “I think that witch is planning something!”

Pre-readers understand that a story follows a sequence, that the words start in one area and then after they are read, the page is turned.  We don’t leap around story books ‘willy nilly’ – they have a sequential order.  You can demonstrate this by occasionally tracking the words with your finger so kids begin to understand this left to right sweeping motion.  You can ask your pre-reader to turn the page.  And you can ask them questions at the end like “What happened in the beginning of this story?” and “How did this story end?”.  Watch a pre-reader’s eyes when they explore a book on their own – can you notice their eyes sweeping across the pages left to right?

Here’s an example of Sophie – now four, exploring a book on her own.  She’s just roughly retelling the story in her own words.  This is what pre-readers do.  Our response should be:  “I love the way you’re reading that story!”  Or “Can you read to me?”

What about if your child is already reading well?  Maybe they’re older or very competent.  How do you check in with them and their reading?  Well – there’s actually quite a few things you can do:

  • Ask them what they’re reading.  Chat with them about it, just like you’d chat with a friend about a good book.
  • Read something they’ve read and again – talk about it.
  • Recommend a book to them.
  • Read something they’ve recommended.
  • Ask them to read out loud to you – they’ll cringe, but just ask anyway.  Being read to is one of life’s great pleasures.
  • Read something out loud to them.  Never stop reading to your kids.  There are subtle ways you can do this.  E.g
    • “Hey I read this last night and thought of you…”
    • “You’d like this book, listen to this bit…”
    • “I can’t believe what this politician is saying… insert excerpt from newspaper here
  • Buy books with them.
  • Think outside the book – direct your kids to read widely.  Blogs, websites, newspapers, magazines, recipes, poems, comics… it’s all reading.

So that concludes Investing In Reading.  I still feel like I have so much to share with you about reading – but that’ll do for now.  I hope you’ve gained something.  Please make sure you email me your comments and ideas – tell me what you’ve learnt and what you still want to know.

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