One of the best ways to get your child to read with more confidence is to have your child read to aloud to you, a member of the family or even to his/her favorite stuffed animal. In a New York Times article (Engel, 2007) it was reported:
Reading to Stuffed Animals
” that Ms. Brennan, a third-grade teacher, decided that a student of hers was showing little progress because he did not get enough practice actually reading stories to improve. This child would not read to a person because he was so poor at reading that he was embarrassed, but reading to a pet terrier that was kept in her room was fun. Every day the student would walk over to a bookshelf and select a book. He then read the book to the dog, pointing to each word as he read and looking over the pictures. By June the boy was reading from a wide range of picture books and eagerly volunteering for read-aloud times. By this time he was accurate and reading with expression.”
In another study, a similar improvement in reading fluencey was noted:
(Samuels, S. (2008). Beating the Odds: Giving Kids a Chance to Win the Game of Life. In R. Fink, & S. Samuels (Eds.), Inspiring Reading Success (pp. 1-18). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.)
Each student was encouraged to bring in a small stuffed animal to class. The teacher made the children feel that the stuffed animals enjoy being read to orally by the student.
“ The students have learned to treat their stuffed animals as if they were living things. When the students read a book, they read it orally to the animals. The teacher explained that under the usual classroom conditions when struggling readers read silently to themselves, they may skip hard words. However, if they are reading orally to stuffed animals that are capable of understanding, it is important to read every word so that the animal will understand the story. It is interesting to observe the children read to the animals. The children are careful to read every word. If the student is a struggling reader, the student often will go back and reread a section to the animal so that it is read with expression. These animals understand the stories most easily when they are read with expression.”
Have you ever seen your child read aloud to a make believe playmate, stuffed animal or favorite doll?
Try this method out with your child by first having your child read aloud to you with a favorite doll or stuffed animal on your lap. Afterwards, suggest your child continue with another book and that s/he reads aloud to the stuffed animal without you.