The Reading Tub, in promoting reading and literacy, is devoted to "Turning a Page... Opening The World."® I recently had the opportunity to talk with the non-profit organization's founder, Terry Doherty, about her labor of love. This is the second part of a two-part interview. Read part one.
What seem to be the best books for reluctant readers?
It is really important that reluctant readers feel they are moving through a book quickly. They tend to like books with lots of 'white space' around the edges and they need pictures to take up some of the page. Shorter sentences and action-driven plots also help.
During the school year, I volunteer with a program that offers tutoring to first graders who are struggling with reading. It is an incredibly enlightening experience, and last year I worked with a boy who would get discouraged when we read books that had more than two or three sentences on a page. So then we would partner read. He got to practice his reading, and I helped by moving the story along. In some ways it is more important to keep the child reading (he can see the words you read) than it is to MAKE him read everything on a page.
For third and fourth graders, we need books with pictures that offer more sophisticated plots. They don't want to read Henry and Mudge or the Froggy books anymore. That just reminds them of how hard it was to read when they were in first and second grade. I have been very impressed with some of the books we've seen with more sophisticated stories and adventures. They are an excellent bridge and can encourage struggling or remedial readers.
How much reading is good reading?
I'm not sure about the best way to answer that. The general recommendation is 20 minutes per day, though I have seen a recommendation for 10 minutes/day, too. Reading with a child is a dynamic, individual process. The goal is to create a positive association with reading. The more it is forced, the more the child will struggle against it.
Reading isn't always about practicing letter sounds or learning words. Some of the best reading can be the shared experience of flipping through the pages of a book to look at the pictures, and maybe talk about them. You can encourage your child to read just by sitting together and sharing a book. Wordless books are great for that.
As kids get older, the actual reading part will be more important. Reading is the one skill that has to be practiced at home, every day. You want to do your best to make this a positive experience. As much as you can, find books that match their interests and reading level. Librarians and teachers are incredible resources that can help you with that. The more you can offer books on subjects they like, the easier it will be to get in that practice time.