Turn your child from a struggling reader to a reader who sees reading as a source of pleasure in three simple steps:
1. Read aloud to your child.
Jim Trelease says that you should continue to read aloud to your children even in middle school. You can read books that are 2 or 3 levels above the books they can read themselves.
Children from middle-income families usually enter first grade with about 1,000 hours of one on-one picture book reading time with parents or other family members or teachers. Low income families average less than 100 hours.
2. Have lots of books in the house.
Keep books in your kitchen, in your kids bedrooms, in their backpacks. Take them to the library. Visit used book stores.
More than one-third of American children enter kindergarten without the basic language skills they will need to learn to read. Those critical early literacy skills include recognizing the letters of the alphabet, understanding that books move from left to right, and being able to understand and tell stories.
3. Be a reader yourself.
Read books in front of your child. Read the newspaper. Read cookbooks. Read magazines. Model for your child that reading is fun.
Despite the billions of dollars Americans have invested in remedial reading programs, there are millions of children who enter school unprepared are highly likely to never catch up. In fact, 88% of first graders who are below grade level in reading will continue to read below grade level in fourth grade. (Juel, 1988) Reading difficulties contribute to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, dropping out, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy – all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
The answer is to guard children against illiteracy in the critical years before they enter school, when interventions can have the most dramatic impact. In fact, Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman found that economic returns on dollars invested in early education are as high as 15-17% per year – higher than other traditional economic development strategies.