Highly Effective Readers Read Often and Not Because they are Told they Have To

Highly Effective Readers Read Often and Not Because they are Told they Have To

Well, it is that time of year again.  My kids are off to school and I am excited to begin writing a brand new book.  I will be creating the book through this blog and you will have free access to all of it’s content here.  This book/blog series is called Seven Habits of Highly Effective Readers and will give you information on what you can do to create an avid reader.


Today we begin the 4th habit of highly effective readers, which is that they read often and not because they are told to.  In fact here are some thoughts that all play a
role in their frequency.

  1. Perfect practice makes perfect
  2. They talk about the books they are reading with their friends
  3. They read books that their friends are reading
  4. They read all over the place
  5. When you ask them to do something they tell you they will do it when they finish the chapter
  6. They read for pleasure

The focus today is going to be how perfect practice makes perfect.  As we have seen in earlier posts, highly effective readers are able to pick out just right books, they have favorite authors, they are motivated to read and so they read a lot.

However, there is something that is really important to point out.  Highly effective readers are effective because they take part in perfect practice.  See, they have the freedom to choose books that they love, read when they want to, pronounce words correctly, and determine the meaning of new words.

So one of the most misunderstood practices that teachers place on all kids is that if they practice reading they will just magically get good at it.  This may be true, but what if when a child is approaching a text on their own and they continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  Well, then they are just strengthening the neuropathways in their brain to learn words incorrectly.  Then it becomes difficult to retrain the child's brain to read it correctly.

My suggestion instead of sending off all kids to read independently on their own is to make sure struggling readers have somebody by them that can be helpful.  In my book 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing struggling reader's reading levels I suggest picking out a book with an adult and each the child and parent switch reading roles from page to page.  I also give tips on how to help a child when they struggle with reading certain words or don't know the meanings of words.  It is as if you had a reading specialist right there with you and your child while you are reading together.Joanne IMG_8665

See imperfect practice does not make perfect.  So we shouldn't put kids in a situation where they will be practicing imperfectly.  Of course, these kids can read just right books independently, but often times kids are sent home with books that are too difficult or they may personally choose to read a book that is to difficult.  It is during these times that you will want to fully support them, so that they do not practice imperfectly.  Every child deserves to practice perfectly.

How can you help a child practice reading?

Free Copy of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader’s reading level

Free Copy of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader’s reading level

I am trying out rafflecopter for the first time and am doing a giveaway of my book 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader's reading Joanne IMG_8654level.  This is the actual hard copy of the book and not just an ebook.  Not only that, but I will even personally sign this book for you as well.

Doing a Rafflecopter giveaway is a really a cool way to reward people for helping you spread the word about your raffle because you give your potential winners different points for doing certain actions.  For instance, if you like the Skyping Reading Tutor on my facebook page, then you are going to get 3 points in the raffle.  If you tweet about my giveaway, then you will get another 3 points.  (The best part is that you can get these points every time you tweet about it, but only one entry per day counts).    Just by entering your favorite quote from a children's book you will get +2 points, and by following me on Twitter you will get another 2 points.   The more points that you have the better your chances are for winning.  You absolutely have nothing to lose.  So click on a Rafflecopter giveaway and get a chance to win your very own signed copy of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader's reading level.  

Have you used rafflecopter before?  How did it work for you if you did?  If you didn't how could it be useful for your campaigns?


How the Reading Process and the Editing Process are Alike

How the Reading Process and the Editing Process are Alike

Over the holiday weekend I have been experiencing much joy in my life.  I have been remembering all of the things that I am grateful for and focusing on completing the editing stage of my book 31 Days to Become a Better Reader.  As I have been editing the book, it dawned on me how similar the self-monitoring tactics I teach to children in my online tutoring program are similar to the editing process.  Those strategies are:

  • Does it look right?
  • Does it sound right?
  • Does it make sense?

In my book I mention these strategies on Day 5.  Let’s take a closer look at what this looks like in the reading process and compare it to the writing process.

Does it Look Right?

In reading if I say a word that was not written on the page, then I need to think does that look right.  I can use the beginning of the word to make an initial decision and then move onto the end of the word and the middle.

As I was editing my book, thinking does it look right was extremely pivotal.  Amazon has expectations when a book is sent in about the size of the margins and font.  I even needed to pay close attention to the space at the end of a page and check with the alignment on the top.

My Table of Contents was one of those things that I saved for last because I knew that the page numbers would change.  However, I had difficulty with the page alignment with the chapter numbers and the chapter title.  I needed to call in my resource of call a friend and she helped me fix it.

Sometimes when we are reading we are able to fix our mistakes.  However, there are times when you just can’t figure out a word and you need to ask someone for help.

Does it sound right?

When we are reading we want to make sure that we are reading the way the author wrote it.  This means that the author needs to take special care to make sure that the sentences are grammatically correct.  If it doesn’t make sense, then we need to go back to read it if we are the reader, or go back and reword it if we are the editor/writer.

Does it Make Sense?

Many times struggling readers will read words that don’t sound like real words.  They need to think themselves if that is a word they have heard of or not.  The tricky part is sometimes the child reads the word correctly, but because she is not familiar with the meaning of the word, she second guesses herself.

During the editing process I found that I need to read my work out loud and check for any errors I may have made.  I found that I had several errors that I had not caught previously.  Thank goodness for that red squiggly line that alerts one to these errors.  I had a few spelling errors that are similar to the errors a reader makes when reading a made up word.

Writing a book from start to finish opened my eyes to the entire reading/writing process more than it ever has before.  In the schools many people are utilizing Lucy Calkins method of teaching writing.  This woman is spot on and she teaches children to edit for one thing at a time.  I found that in editing my book that I needed to focus on one part at a time.  For example, I looked for page alignment throughout the whole text, matching table of contents with my chapter titles, and so on and so forth.

The reading and the writing process are so closely aligned that it is important to marry the two and only focus on one thing at a time.  If we try to focus on everything, then eventually our minds will become frazzled.  Sometimes we need to take it one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one page at a time, or one chapter at a time.  However we decide to go about we always need to remember to keep it simple.

Law of Attraction in Action

Law of Attraction in Action


Law of Attraction in ActionHave you ever wanted something so bad that you could smell, feel, and experience it as if you had already had it? If so, then you have experienced the law of attraction in action.

I have had this experience a few times in my life and I am currently going through it right now. I have been working on a book through my blog called, 31 Days to a Better Reader. I have found the tools that I thought I was going to use and then I found a system that would not only help me publish, but to also promote my book. There was just one tiny problem. I can't afford the system. So my brain began brainstorming all of the ways that I could scrimp and save and then a new way was revealed.

The creator of the program is having a contest. One lucky winner is going to win. Well, I don't usually enter contests. I didn't let that stop me though. I found out all of the rules and regulations and have created a video to enter the contest.

Now comes the law of attraction part. I have been picturing myself winning this contest. There is going to be an announcement on Oct. 11, which is tomorrow. Here I will find out if I win. I have been picturing my name being announced. I have felt what it feels like to win and I am prepared to win.

I have pictured myself in Mike Koenigs studio producing my commercials for my products and services. I have pictured shaking his hand. I even have created this image in my children's brains because they are better at the law of attraction than I am. Sometimes I let fear and anxiety get in the way and they do not know what that is.

I also believe that when multiple people can envision this for you that you also have a better chance. So here is where I need you. Can you picture me winning this contest and send positive thought and feedback in the comments section. Let me know if I can ever help to put the law of attraction into action for you and I will do the same.

P.S. If you would like to help me win, please watch the video and LIKE it on YouTube.


Video from Author Expert Marketing Machine Contest

Day 27 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Identifying with a Character

Day 27 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Identifying with a Character


What do Harry Potter and Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid have in common?  Well kids can identify with the main character and get to explore the world through their eyes.


I was just volunteering my time today in an amazing class called Team Bond 3rd Grade.  They are in Walled Lake, MI and they were describing their favorite books to me.  They happened to include Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Why?  Well, it is pretty simple.  These kids love to explore new worlds through a different lens.  Sometimes that lens is one that we can really identify with, like the relationship between Greg and his family.  Sometimes that lens is not one we can identify with, but the world is so magical that we would love to be a part of it.


Whatever kids reasons for identifying with characters in a book are, kids will continue to pick up books with those characters again and again if they can identify or want to identify with them.  Why is this important?  This is why kids read.  If there isn’t an identification process, then there isn’t an interest.  If there isn’t an interest, then there is no reason to continue reading.  It is time to abandon the book and move on to a new one.


When I was a little girl I believed that there was this thing called magical paint.  You could use it to paint yourself and then no one would see you.  Because of my magical paint reference, I could really identify with Harry Potter and his invisible cloak.  I not only envied Harry Potter, but I wanted to jump into the book and get one of those invisible cloaks for myself.  I loved experiencing the world when Harry was in his invisible cloak.


Now Greg Heffley is just your everyday middle school kid.  He is not too popular, but he is not completely unpopular.  He is friends with Holly.  Anyway, I think that since most of us fit in the middle, we can definitely relate to Greg.  He has a mean big brother.  I had one too.  (Still do, lol)  However, there are times when they seem to get along.  Greg’s little brother is totally annoying and older kids with younger siblings can definitely relate to the trials and tribulations that Greg suffers on a day to day basis.


These two characters are believable, likable, and identifiable.  Every kid is going to have his/her own reasons why he/she connects with these characters.  No two kids will relate for the same exact reasons.  That is why today’s strategy of identifying with a character from the book is so much fun.  It gives your child the opportunity to think about what life would be like to be in the shoes of that character.  Great readers, do this automatically.  This is why they fall in love with reading so much.


I just recently turned a boy who would rather be playing video games onto the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and this boy now wants to read every single Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.  Why, because they both have a love of video games.  That’s right, this kid is able to identify with the life of the character because they enjoy the exact same things.  Guess what, in just 3 short weeks that boy finished the first book almost completely on his own.  Thank you Jeff Kinney for turning boys who love video games into lovers of your books.


Today with your child ask what character he/she identifies with and share which one you identify with and explain why.


P.S If you are reading a non-fiction book, you are off the hook today.


P.P.S Did you know that the smartest people in the world read non-fiction books everyday?

Day 15 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Exclamation points!!!

Day 15 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Exclamation points!!!

Fluency is back and there is an important reason. Reading fluency interventions have been known to bridge the gap to poor comprehension. Fluent readers usually understand what they are reading.

We have looked at what our voice does for periods, commas, and question marks on day 7. Today we are going to highlight exclamation points.

The same activity that I did with question marks is the exact same activity that I do with exclamation points. I get out the highlighters and with the child begin marking up the text with where my voice goes up and when it goes down. I use green for up and red for down. Then I look for patterns and notice with the child where my voice goes up and where it goes down.

The problem with exclamation points is that they don’t happen frequently in text. You may or may not have exclamation points in your text today. No big deal, just keep in mind to do the highlighting as you come across them over the next few days and then analyze them. The most critical thing to point out right now is that the observations need to be coming from your child. If you are pointing out your observations and not giving him/her time to figure it out for him or herself, then you will not be guiding your child to those aha moments.

Sometimes it can be frustrating waiting for our child to respond to us. The general rule is to wait about 5-10 seconds when you ask a question. However, sometimes the problem is that our child doesn’t want to respond to us. Some children respond well to their parents helping them in a difficult subject and sometimes the help is not received well. This is why I offer the services that I do. I love teaching kids to read and while my own kids do not respond well to me helping them with reading, other kids move forward quickly.

I would love to know how this series is helping you or if you have any questions about the strategies we have been talking about. We are halfway through and I can pretty much guarantee that if you have even done this challenge for half of the time, that you will see great results. Tomorrow we will focus on a phonics strategy so stay tuned.

Day 14 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Most Common Prefixes

Day 14 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Most Common Prefixes

Some of you may be thinking, what do the most common prefixes have to do with increasing reading comprehension.  Actually, they are extremely important and here is why.


Studying the etymology of words can help with understanding their meaning.  What I like about studying the 4 most common prefixes is that they make up 97% of prefixed words.  These prefixes once understood, can help begin to make sense of an unknown word.


The three most common prefixes are dis, re, and un.  Re means again and dis and un mean not.  The fourth actually has four different versions.  They are in, im, il, and ir.  They also all mean not.  If you are serious about increasing your child’s vocabulary, then whenever you see these in a book point out re, dis, un, and in.  These will start getting your child into the habit of looking at the word and scientifically diagnosing it to see if there is anything that he/she knows about the word to understand it’s meaning better.  This will in turn ensure that your child will become a better reader and increase reading comprehension.


If you happen to know the meaning of other prefixes and want to bring that to the attention of your child, feel free to do so.  I am all about getting the most bang for you buck.  However, it is not necessary.  With all of the other tools that you are learning here we want to somehow manage to keep it all simple.  Once we make reading difficult for the child, they will begin to disengage with us or possibly the text.


Another thing to consider is the age of your child.  Obviously a high school student would be able to get deeper into analyzing word part meanings more so than a first grade student.  So take your audience into consideration and enjoy this one on one time with your child.

Day 13 of the 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge:  Make a Statement

Day 13 of the 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Make a Statement

As readers, we have so many things that go through our head that we don’t even pay attention to.  However, once we begin to pay attention to them, we can begin to recognize whether we are understanding what we are reading or not.

One of those strategies is called making a statement.  For example, some statements include;

  1. Wow, that is really neat.
  2. I never thought of that before.
  3. That is so true.
  4. I never knew that before.


These statements don’t really lead to anything, but if you find that you are making them, then you are definitely understanding what you are reading.  You can’t comment or say something to yourself if your mind is blank and you are just reading the words.

As a parent you can do this by making a comment or statement when you are reading, tell your child that a comment just happened in your head and you just wanted to share it with him/her.  Ask if your child ever does that when he/she is reading.  If he/she says yes, then ask him/her to tell you about that.  If he/she says no, then ask them if any come to the head when you reading together today.  Your child may find that he or she is doing it, but since he/she didn’t have a name for it that he/she wasn’t aware of it.  Or, you may have the opportunity to teach it to your child.  Either way it is a great technique.  Tomorrow we will be taking a look at how prefixes can help increase comprehension.

Day 12 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Self Sufficiency

Day 12 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Self Sufficiency

Today is Day 12 of the 31 Days to a Better Reader Challange.  How is your child responding to you and the help that you are providing for them?  I have personally found that my own children are not very open to me helping them.  They become frustrated because they truly believe they know everything.  However, this is not what I experience when I am working with other peoples children.  I hear comments like, “Wow, you really resonate well with kids.”  I had one parent tell me, “You have mad-talent skills.”

But here is the thing that we have to remember the most when the child is doing the reading.  We want the child, when he/she is reading, to be doing all of the work to figure out the words.  If they are not, then they will not remember these things next time.  They will rely on you, instead of digging deep inside and figuring it out, which then leads to remember the skill or word the next time he/she runs across it.  So, if our child is not responding well to us helping them, it is definitely time to take a look at some outside help.  Remove yourself from the equation, be mom or dad, and watch your child soar.

I have heard from some parents that they are completely capable when it comes to helping their child.  Many of those parents homeschool their children and it is an amazing process for them.  I admire that, (and a piece of me is jealous).  It is important for me to remember that it is all about what is best for my child’s education and not take on some of the feelings that want to pop up.  If my children were struggling with reading, I would definitely invest in having someone help them, so that I could continue working on my relationship with them as mom.  Hope all is going well with the challenge for you and if you have any questions feel free to ask them here and I will answer them for you.  I would love to hear how having your child figure out the words is going for you.  Please post your comment below.


Day 11 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Question Marks

Day 11 of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader Challenge: Question Marks

On day 7 we took a look improving fluency and specifically at stopping appropriately at periods and commas. Today we are going to focus on what to do with question marks. If this particular strategy isn’t something that your child struggles with, then you can simply focus on the information from the previous days.

When we read we know that our voice goes up and down very naturally. We don’t need any instruction in this, it just happens. However, when we are reading, many times a child will look at a question mark and keep a monotone voice and read it like a period. Their voice doesn’t change, and it is really hard to tell as the listener that there was a question asked because not making our voice go up and down actually changes the meaning of what we are reading.

When I am teaching kids reading online I am able to highlight the books with two different colors very easily. I highlight the words that go up as green and the words that go down as red. Then when I am done I have the kids take a look at exactly where my voice was going up and down. This visual actual helps kids to see their voice in a different way.

After we analyze what happens with their voice we go over when the voice is particularly going up and going down. Then the child gets to practice making their own voice go up and down. It is a powerful strategy and it ultimately leads to better comprehension.

If you own the book, then you can mark it up all you want to help your child with this, however, if you don’t own it you are aware that would be a very bad move. That is why I love using ebooks with kids online. I can mark up the text to guide them without getting in their space or ruining a great book.

Once your child's voice has improved in fluency, you will notice how much more interesting it is to listen to him or her read. It also increases their own personal motivation to want to read. Let me know if you have any questions. I would love to guide you in how I do this.