Highly Effective Readers Like to Read out Loud: The 6th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

Highly Effective Readers Like to Read out Loud: The 6th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

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.


Did you know that highly effective readers actually like reading out loud?  They like the way they sound when they start reading out loud, and they volunteer to read in class because they love to read.  What makes them want to read?  Well, for starters, they understand the purpose of punctuation.  Ask a kid, who is not a highly effective reader, what a comma is for and they will answer with, "I don't know."

Here are all of the things that a highly effective reader does when it comes to reading out loud.

1.  Raise their hand to read out loud

2.  Reads with expression

3.  Follows the rules for punctuation

Let's take a look at what is all involved with raising your hand to read out loud.  First a child that raises their hand to read has a lot of self confidence in their reading-raising hand abilities.  Raising their hand means that they are risk takers.  They don't sit and worry what is going to happen if they don't get the word correct.  They are confident that they will be able to figure it out and are willing to take a helping hand if they need it.  They don't personalize the mistake and use it as evidence that they are not a very good reader.  They realize that all readers mess up on words once in a while.

This is where the Matthew effect comes in.  Have you ever head of the idea, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?  Well, it comes into play with reading as well.  Since there are these readers that are highly effective and are willing to raise their hand because they are confident in their abilities, other kids will get less reading time in the classroom.

So what can we do to make all readers feel comfortable to raise their hand to read?

1.  Don't allow others to give away the word unless asked. Asking for help needs to be a strategy and not something that we do to readers who can't figure it out.

2. Have your child read out loud at home.  This can be done with a parent reading one page and the adult reading another page.  If you are looking for ideas on how to do this you can get 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader's reading level.

3. If your child messes up on a word, say, "Try again."  This doesn't make them feel bad, and it gets them thinking about the right word and what would make sense with any arguments.

4.  Praise the child on the things they are doing well when they read out loud so they can begin to see how well they really are.  When we are helping kids we have the opportunity to build up or tear down.  Focus on your responses on 4 positive things to every 1 helpful idea to improve and get better.  Kids who get too much criticism (as they view it) are less likely to view themselves in a positive light.

Kids that are already highly effective readers are already receiving praises for what a great reader they are.  So they don't need more praises, but kids that don't see themselves in this light do need it.

What kinds of things do you do help other readers build their self confidence in their reading abilities?


What Really Motivates Boys to Read?

What Really Motivates Boys to Read?

Dan Gutman knows how to make me laugh.  He also knows how to make my 9 year student that happens to be a boy laugh as well.  Dan Gutman starts with a great title and from there it just keeps getting better.  One of my favorite series includes My Weird School Daze.  The book my student and I are reading is called Miss Mary is Scary.  On the cover of the book is a scared little boy and an upside down teacher hanging like a bat.  If you think that kids don’t judge a book by it’s cover then you are very wrong.  The cover needs to be just as engaging for boys as the title.  Otherwise, they may decide they don’t want to read it.


I was reading an article in the Reading Teacher today that inspired me to write about today’s topic.  The article title is “Effective Approaches to Motivate and Engage Reluctant Boys in Literacy.”  Since I work with a ton of these boys, I wanted to see if there was something that stuck out as new information.  I didn’t find new information, but it seemed to put a whole bunch of ideas together to make the topic complete.  The article touched on choice, men as readers, non-fiction books, purpose, and technology.




I am a huge advocate of choice when it comes to boys and reading.  One of my students that I work with just finished a book and it was time to choose a new one.  So, I took his interests into consideration and pulled a bunch of books that I thought he might enjoy.  He picked his book based on if it included pictures and how long it was.  That was what motivated him the most.  Guess what?  He is loving the book that he chose and wants to read more from the series.


All in all it doesn’t matter what a child’s motivation to read is if it motivates him/her to read.  If you can hook a reader on a series then you can hook a reader for life.  So far this student is hooked on the My Weird School Daze series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.


Men as Readers


The article suggested that boys need to see men as readers.  This can be done in one of two ways.  Boys can either witness their fathers or other men reading or read books that are written by men.  In order for boys to see reading as a task that boys do, they need to have role models.  One place that you can go to see boys reading is http://www.storylineonline.net/.  This is a website where actors actually read engaging books.


Non-fiction books


Boys are naturally curious beings.  Their favorite question when they are young is why.  They want to know how everything works and they love taking things apart to figure that out.  But, what we have recently found out, is that boys love to read about how things work as well.  It is really important to surround our boys in non-fiction books and talk about information in those books with them.




The article talked about how boys really like to have an authentic purpose tied into their literacy.  This past summer I had a boy that had gotten a hermit crab as a gift.  This little boy wanted to know everything that there was to know about hermit crabs.  When his hermit crab started becoming slow and isolating himself, the little boy wanted to know if his hermit crab was sick or if it was molting.  We read about the molting process and learned that he was probably fine.


This little boy was super engaged to write his own book on how to take care of hermit crabs.  Although he hated the idea of having to go back and edit his work, he enjoyed learning all there was to know about hermit crabs, taking notes, and writing his own book.  He was so motivated that he wanted to get his book published and sell it on Amazon.




Technology engages boys.  This was one idea shared in the article.  This is no surprise since technology is everywhere.  This is one of the reasons that skyping and reading tutoring mix so well.  It is giving instruction to boys in their language.  It is more engaging.  Not all boys prefer this method, but the boys that I have worked with so far love it compared to other methods.




From this article we can see that boys enjoy choices.  They tend to like shorter passages than longer ones and would rather read non-fiction vs. fiction.  Boys want to read with a clear purpose in mind and if you can incorporate technology then you may have a winner.  Don’t forget that boys need to see other men reading, so involve dad in the process in any way that you can.

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.

Soccer Practice: Please Show Passport

Soccer Practice: Please Show Passport

Imagine this, it is time to bring your child to soccer or football practice.  You pack all of your clothes, equipment, and get everyone settled into the car.  You begin driving and forget to bring your passport.  So, you go back home, grab your passport and cross the border to get your child to practice on time.

This may sound far fetched to many of you, but it is reality for the children in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Last week I got to hang out in Ms. Elder's class and she was explaining that many of her students have sports practices in Montana.  I was extremely interested in this, especially since I already knew she lived in Canada and that the class I was specifically talking with was in Canada.  To them it did not sound like a big deal, but to many of us who have never experienced that it is fascinating.

This is one of the reasons that I love volunteering in classrooms all over the world and reading to them.  I love learning and I love learning about different people and the way that they do things.

Ms. Elder and I met last year via Twitter and I was able to read to her class then.  She does a looping grade 1 and grade 2 split.  So some of the students had recognized me from last year.  It was really cool to pop into their classroom and have many of them recognize me.  One little boy said, "I know you".  It was really sweet.

Ms. Elder asked me to share my favorite story with the class.  For me, my absolute favorite story is Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.   However, I do not have an ebook version yet to share with the children, so I decided to go with my second favorite Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Ironically, the class had just taken down their Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and they were absolutely thrilled that I chose that book out of all of the books in the world to read to them.

I have read this book to several children all over the world and it seems to be a hands down favorite.  What are some of your favorite books to read with children?  I would love to know.

Watch this clip from a past reading of the book to a group of students in North Carolina.

Reading to Your Child is the Simplest Yet Most Important Thing You Do Together

Cover of "Raising a Reader: A Mother's Ta...

Cover via Amazon

Teaching a child to read and to love reading is perhaps the most important learning related thing you can do for your child. Reading is necessary for nearly anything your child might want to do with his or her life, and a strong reader can use reading to learn about anything they might wish to learn about. Give reading the priority is deserves in your home and you will raise a competent reader who loves to read.

Make your home reader friendly. Be sure to take the time to read things that you enjoy and let your children know about it. Leading by example is much more effective than lecturing your child on the importance of reading. Make a wide variety of books available to your child right from the start. Simply having books in your home for babies and young children to look at is an excellent start. If finances are an issue for you, a visit to your local library is in order. You will be able to check out lots of great books for children and adults for free. Even if you have books at home already you have purchased, consider using the library to add more variety to your collection of books.

Read to your children everyday from birth. As your child grows older you can read together as he or she learns to read, and eventually have them read to you. But when you have babies and very young children, the best thing you can do for them is read to them and make it a fun experience. Your local library can also help with this. Many libraries hold regular story times for children of all ages. Attending story time is another chance to expose your child to more reading, and good children’s librarians will read books in a very animated and engaging way.

The books you or your child choose are important. Share favorite books you loved reading as a child and your excitement will be evident to your child. Just as important as reading to your child is impressing upon them the joys of reading. Allow your child to visit bookstores and the library and choose books about the things that they love. What you read about isn’t as important as simply reading, and choosing books that you and your child enjoy will make reading something your child looks forward to doing.

Partner with your child’s teacher and choose books that relate to what your child is learning in school. You will be helping your child do well in school by reinforcing the concepts they are working on, while simultaneously practicing reading skills.

Be sure to allow your baby or child to participate in reading the story. When your baby or toddler points to pictures in the story be sure to encourage them by talking about what they see and asking questions. Ask young emerging readers to participate in reading familiar stories, perhaps asking them to fill in when they have read the story many times before. You will know your young child is beginning to understand what books are all about when they begin to follow along with the story and can take you through their favorite books and tell you about the story.

Raising a reader is not complicated. All it takes it a commitment to make reading a part of every day life, and making sure books are always available to your child. Once you get into a routine of reading often, it will become second nature to you, and you will be on the road to raising a great reader.

Submitted by Sarah Morris of Primrose Schools- child care with high early education standards.