10 Signs of a Struggling Reader and What You Can do About it

10 Signs of a Struggling Reader and What You Can do About it

You may be one of those people that wonders if your child is struggling with reading.  All kids develop at different rates and each grade level has different
expectations.  Here you are going to learn what signs to look for and identify if your child fits in that category.  You will also have the opportunity to take a look to see what you can do for your child if she is struggling with that area.  At the end of this post there is a video of a call that I did teaching parents what they can do to determine if their child is struggling.  So here are the 10 signs to look for to determine if you indeed have a struggling reader.

1.  They ask you to read something for them.Young man fallen asleep after long reading

2.  They ask you how to spell a word.

3.  They come up with excuses not to read.

4. They read word by word.

5.  They can’t answer questions about what they just read.

6.  They don’t make comments when they are reading.

7.  They skip words.

8.  They slur words when reading and hope that you don’t notice.

9.  They keep asking you the meaning of words.

10.  They read as fast and they can.

We are going to take a look at each of these specifically and figure out what the real problem is and what some solutions are to the problem.

They ask you to read something for them

Now asking you to read something is not a problem unless it seems like they are constantly asking you to do it.  The problem is, they are suffering from a lack of self confidence about their reading.  They don’t see themselves as being able to accurately read what is before them.  So you will want to find out specifically why they are asking you to read it for them.

Ask your child why they need you to read it for them.  Is it because they don’t know how to read certain words or because they need help understanding a concept?  You will want to delve more into it to determine that.

Another thing you can do is ask your child to read it to you.  That way you can listen to see what the problem seems to be.  You will be able to listen to whether they are struggling with a word or they have a blank look like they aren’t understanding a concept.

They ask you how to spell a word

Kids that struggle with reading also struggle with spelling.  Spelling is actually a harder task than reading because it requires you to have mastered the phonics rules, which don’t always make sense.  The problem here is also a lack of self confidence.  They don’t trust that they can write the word correctly, so they ask you because surely you know how to do it.  Why risk being wrong, when you have the answer.  The thing is, you don’t want to be their solution.  You can’t travel around with them all day long to help them with their spelling.

So, give your child an opportunity to try it on their own first.  If your child spells it correctly, then you can congratulate her and build up her self confidence.  If it is wrong, then you can write the word the correct way next to it.  Then your child can look for the errors that she made and then write it the correct way.  To give some added practice you can have your child write the word an additional 5 to 10 times to begin to lock in how to spell the word correctly.

They come up with excuses not to read

One of the problems here is motivation.  Your child would rather be doing anything else in the world than reading and the thought of having to read sounds like pure torture.  Find out why your child doesn’t want to read, by asking her.  Sometimes it is because they just haven’t found the right books yet.  To find books that your child will love, you can go to www.goodreads.com and type in the search bar “3rd grade books”.  Insert your child’s grade level or reading level and find some books that other kids their age are enjoying.

Many kids love spending time with their parents.  Some like to snuggle, some like to be close by.  Whatever the situation is for you and your child, next time do it with a book.  You can simply read to your child or switch off from page to page.  This way you can model great reading habits and motivate them more to want to read.

They read word by word

Nothing can sound more monotonous than a child that reads word by word.  The biggest problem here is fluency.  We want reading to sound like we are talking and not to sound robotic.

Repeated readings of the same text can be a way for kids to break this word by word reading pattern.  There are some fun poems on www.gigglepoetry.com that you can check out.  There are also some poetry theater readings that you can do with your child that can help them with practicing a text for meaning.  Have your child perform the poems to other family members or call grandma and grandpa to listen to it.  The poems will be entertaining for your child, and everyone will laugh.  Making reading fun is a sure way to break that word by word reading.

They can’t answer questions about what they just read

The problem here is comprehension.  A child can sound like he or she is a good reader, but not actually be reading to understand.  Being able to sound out words and read them correctly is only part of the reading process.  We want kids to be able to think about what they are reading and make meaning out of it.  A comprehension problem can be based off of not thinking about the words, but it can also be based on not knowing the meaning of words.  Pay attention to what the situation could be for your child.

As you are listening to your child read, have her summarize at the end of a page periodically.  This will give you an opportunity to see if she is processing what she is reading.  If she doesn’t know how to do that, then you can model with her when you are reading books to her at night.  After you are done reading a page, then you can summarize what is happening.

They don’t make comments when they are reading

As we are reading, we are thinking about what we are reading.  However a child that has no thinking going on during their reading is purely just reading the words and not comprehending the text.  As we are reading many different kinds of thoughts run through our head.  We make statements, such as, “Hmmm…I didn’t know that.”  We also make predictions about what is going to happen next.  We ask different kinds of questions, and we monitor our reading for understanding.  Lastly, we make connections.  We can make connections between the book and our life, other books, and the world.

This is where reading aloud to your child can help.  It gives you the opportunity to be able to model the thoughts that go through your head when you are reading, so that they can begin to understand what kinds of thoughts could be going through their head when they are reading.

They skip words

The problem here could be phonics or a lack of sight words in their long term memory.  Sometimes kids skip words because they don’t want to take the time to figure them out.  Sometimes they are focusing on the next big word that they see.  If you notice that your child is doing this you can have her go back and read it.  If the word is too difficult, then you can help her break it up.

Sometimes though a word cannot be read phonetically, and it just has to be memorized.  To help your child memorize the word, you can collect difficult words on index cards.  On one side write the word.  On the other side you can write a sentence that your child comes up with.  Then you can practice the words that your child has difficulty with and increase her ability to read sight words.

They slur words when they are reading and hope that you don’t notice

This is usually a phonics problem.  The child doesn’t know the word, so they slur it to try to skip under the radar.  Talk to your child about the importance of reading the sounds distinctly.  This will help her be able to retain the meaning of what she is reading.  Also, make her go back to the word and read it again.  You can try to help her break up the word to read it, or add it to the sight word index cards to practice.

They keep asking the meaning of words

When this happens, the problem is vocabulary.  Your child needs to increase her vocabulary.  An easy way to do this is to speak to your child more.  As adults our vocabularies are much larger than our children, so the more they hear us talk, the more they pick up words and the meanings of words.  It has been proven that children who have parents that talk to them for longer periods during the day have a much larger vocabulary than children who do not.

Make sure to eat dinner together and talk about your days as a family.  Also, the more that you read to your child, the more words that he or she will pick up accidentally.  The more opportunities that you provide for your child to hear new words the better.  There has been no research that shows kids learn new vocabulary words from watching t.v., so limit tube time and exchange it for you time.

They read as fast as they can

Again, this is a fluency problem.  The child has gotten in their head that the faster they read, the better reader they are, and this just isn’t true.  There are different times when reading fast is necessary.  For example, when you need to quickly skim and scan to find an answer.  However, to read as fast as you can just so that you can be done quicker has never proven to help out with overall comprehension, so have her slow down and really take in what she is reading.

Motivation could be another factor here as well.  So whenever you have the opportunity to provide choices for your child, you will want to do so.  Kids choosing what they want to read has always been a huge motivator to slow down and understand what they are reading.

For more tips on each of these signs you can watch the video below.  Is there a sign that you have noticed from your child, and you are wondering if they have a problem?  Let me know, and we can brainstorm some solutions that might help.


Reopening an Abandoned Library

Reopening an Abandoned Library

5th grade

Joanne Kaminski, Author of The Three Little Sisters Learn to Get Along

As an author I have the privilege of travelling to local schools and motivating kids to read, write, and dream.  Today I had the special privilege to speak at a remarkable school.  It is called Siefert Elementary and the principle there, Mrs. Varela-Katz, has had a mission since the moment she set foot in the school.  When she first toured it, she found that the library was in the basement, and she was concerned.  But then, when she saw that it had been closed down, she was broken hearted.  The students in this


Top 5th grade reader, cutting the ribbon to the new library.

This principal decided to gather some volunteers and staff members and reconstitute the library.  After tons of dusting, organizing, and labeling of books the library
was ready to be unveiled to the children.  Since this school is a RIF school, they were able to coordinate giving each child a free book to take home, and an author
visit.  But before the free book and author visit Mrs. Varela-Katz had the top reader in the 5th grade do the honor of cutting the tape.  This girl was so proud to have this honor and together they began the kickoff event.

But that is not all.  They dedicated this library to a woman named Mrs. Reed who had worked 27 years at that specific school.  Mrs. Reed not only worked there for a long time, but now that she is retired she still continues to volunteer at the school.  She was given an award and the library is now called The Reed Library.

Mrs. Reed

Mrs. Reed, a highly dedicated educator

I love that this woman’s name is Reed.  How awesome that a teacher named Mrs. Reed motivates children to read.

If people are wondering if awesome things are happening in the schools, then they don’t have to look far.  The students energy and excitement regarding this visit was off the chart.  Many of these kids had never met an author before.  They knew that an author is someone who writes books, but to meet an author in their eyes was like meeting a star.

It is so exciting that because of the efforts of amazing leadership, like that of Mrs. Varela-Katz that kids will have the potential to access an unlimited amount of knowledge.  In their new library there are 4 brand new computers and they are also getting a Smartboard.  The access of the world will be at their fingertips to learn and grow in knowledge and wisdom.  One little girl said that she was going to be able to read more books than she has ever read before because of this library.

Libraries are not a thing of the past.  I have found with my own children that they prefer to read actual books vs. virtual books.  Actually touching books, holding books, and reading books is not something that is going to disappear in this digital world.  It is only going to increase the access that people have to books.

What do you think of schools like this that are doing everything they can to keep the library alive and well?  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Do Standardized Tests Create Innovative Thinking?

Do Standardized Tests Create Innovative Thinking?

Image 12-5-13 at 1.32 PM

 This is a great cartoon.  You can double click on it to read it better.  It really does speak the truth today about what is going on in schools.  We have all of these tests and honestly most of them are lame.  Why are they lame, because they don’t give us the information we need in order to effectively instruct our students.

When I was teaching in the classroom I remember the test results coming about 4 months after the kids had taken the test.  By that point the information that I could glean from the test, if I didn’t know that information, then I shouldn’t be teaching in the first place.  I should always know how well my students can perform during certain activities.

This leads me to the second part.  If standardized tests are not useful for teachers who are teaching kids, then maybe they are developing skills that kids need. Nope, they certainly don’t accomplish that either.  We don’t think in A, B, C answer choices.  Which makes this cartoon so funny.

As a student in the elementary, middle school, and high school years I did an absolute horrible job on all of my standardized tests.  I was put into the lowest performing classes and dumbed down to because my brain didn’t know how to process multiple choice test.  However, the most amazing thing happened for me once I got my Master’s degree.  The school that I attended dropped any kind of paper test and only used essay writing to determine what you knew and what you didn’t know.  As a result, I ended up graduating with a 4.0.  Now, I know that not everyone can communicate well through writing, but this fit more with my style to show what I knew.

I was working in the school system when I was getting my Master’s Degree and during that time I learned how to teach kids to take multiple choice tests.  Now, I know that these tests are not going away, so I will share some of the tips regarding multiple choice tests in reading that I have learned.  By the way, I now can do very well on multiple choice tests as a result.

1.  There is always one throwaway answer.

2.  Two answers are always good answers, but only one is the best.

3.  If you are reading a passage, read the questions ahead of time (not the answer choices) to get your brain thinking about what you are going to get tested on.

4.  Go back to the passage and find your answer if you are stuck or not sure of the answer.

5.  Never leave a question blank, always fill in one bubble even if you don’t have time to finish.  You will have a 25% chance of getting it right if you at least fill in one vs. skipping it.

How did you do with multiple choice tests when you were in school?  Does your child struggle with taking them?  What are your thoughts about standardized tests?  I would really love to hear your opinion on the matter.




Birthday Parties Galore and Thanksgiving day Grace

Birthday Parties Galore and Thanksgiving day Grace

So today’s post is going to be a little different than usual.  I love being able to share my family life with all of you, so I am going to talk about the most wonderful things in my life today and that includes my daughters.

Both my oldest and my youngest daughter were born in November and 1 week apart no less.  They are the light of my life, so this time of year it is birthday party central at our house.  I love that I have the freedom to do some pretty special things for my girls when it comes time to celebrating their birthdays.  So this past weekend we got to celebrate my 11 year olds birthday.

My 11 year old is one of those kids that is a camo obsessed Tom Boy, so she is not into anything girly except for arts and crafts projects.  On her birthday I told her we could go shopping at her favorite store Justice, and she could pick out a new outfit.  After spending an hour there, she decided they didn’t have anything that she wanted.  After going to a couple of other stores she said that she didn’t need any clothing.  Then I asked her if she wanted to go to Barnes and Noble to buy a new book.  Her eyes lit up, and we had finally found a winner.

Phew, I hate not buying her a lot for her birthday, but she doesn’t really need a lot.  She would rather have a birthday party sleepover for her friends, so that is usually our present to her.  But this year I had bought a few things for her little sister, whose birthday was one week after hers.  So I wanted to try to make it fair.  She not only picked out one book, but found two others as well.  I love that my kids love to read so much that they would rather books than anything else in the world.  That is pretty cool.  Having people in our lives that care about us and a good book in hand is all this wonderful little girl needs.

So Saturday during the day we went shopping to buy everything we needed for her sleepover.  We decided to take a picture of the group of girls, put the picture on a transfer and iron it to a pillow case.  Here is the picture that we took.

Can you guess which one is the birthday girl?  You guessed it my Tom Boy in the middle being lifted by her friends and her sister.  I look at pictures like this and I photo-3think this is exactly why I have changed my life around.  At the end of the day I care about my children and the reading success of all of my students.  It’s not about politics, whose right, or people’s egos.  It is all about the children and their overall happiness.

While children that struggle with reading can be happy, their self esteem and their self image begin to be affected.  When does this happen, usually around 3rd and 4th grade.  That is why it is so important to catch them up before these grades.

But back to our birthday party galore week.  Mikayla who is in the picture in pink is celebrating her 7th birthday and going to Chuck E’ Cheese with her friends.  She saw her other sister have one of these parties before and decided that this year that was how she wanted to celebrate her birthday.

Not only do we have birthday parties galore going on, but we also have all the other traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Tomorrow morning starts the beginning of the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, but I am pretty much all done with shopping.  I don’t have too many more things that I have to get.  My kids are getting older, and their lists are becoming more expensive and less lengthy.  I am grateful for the wonderful people that we have in our life today, and I am grateful for to watch my own children share in this gratitude.

Today I am so grateful that I was able to be blessed with three amazing girls, a wonderful husband, a healthy mom, and the best students in the world to work with.  Doing what you love really is the secret sauce of living a happy and healthy life.  I am loving every second of it and I am so glad that in less than two months I will be officially rolling out my Tutorpreneur program to teach other teachers how to teach online as well, so they can teach from the comfort of their home and be a mom if they so choose.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?


West Palm Beach Florida Author Visit

O.k. so I live in Wisconsin and it is an extremely cold day today.  My thermometer said that it was 26 degrees out.  Then I had the awesome opportunity to Skype with  Kindergarten class in West Palm Beach Florida to talk about my book The Three Little Sisters Learn to Get Along.  Do you want to know the gorgeous weather they are having?  It was in the 80′s.

These kindergarten kids were awesome.  Their teacher Ms. Martin does all brain based learning with her students, and I have to say I was extremely impressed. When I used the word dabbled to describe my  writing, Ms. Martin discussed what that word means to increase their vocabulary knowledge.  She already has readers and writers in her classroom, and it is only November.  It is amazing what children can learn at such a young age.

In fact these kids were already using big words to describe the parts of the brain like frontal cortex.  Some people would think they entered into a 7th grade classroom with the things these kids were learning.

I loved that when one of the students asked me how many books I own, I was able to show him one of my bookshelves that was filled to the brim.  When I told him that I had five more that looked just like this he was astounded and told me that he has a lot of books too.  Then I said, “In order to become a writer, you need to read a ton of books.”  The teacher loved this comment so much she had her children become a mirror and repeat that phrase.  She had them repeat it again.  Then she had them teach this phrase to the other kids sitting next to them.  This will definitely be a concept that they will leave from our Skype visit.

I love it.  I love being able to highlight the amazing teachers in our school systems.  There are so many of them, but Ms. Martin certainly stands out as someone on top of the latest research, implementing things that her students will stick to their long term brains, not just to their short term brains.  I can only imagine the conversations that some of these kids have with their parents when they go home for the day.  I bet they don’t look at their parents with that blank look when they get asked what they learned at school today.

Thank you Ms. Martin for inviting me to your class and sharing your extremely bright Kindergarten students with me.  They are a treasure, and you are amazing. Keep up the awesome work.

If you are interested in having me come to your classroom to do a free Skype author visit, then you can contact me at jbkaminski@gmail.com with subject line Author visit.  I would love to meet your students and drive enthusiasm into their lives for reading and writing.

Where Should Libraries be in Schools?

Where Should Libraries be in Schools?

In the library right?  Well, more and more libraries are disappearing in our schools.  Is anybody saddened by this.  I certainly am.  I love books and going to the library gives me a feeling of exhilaration to be around so many awesome books.

In my small town we have two libraries within a 5 mile radius.  We really are blessed.  But not all kids have parents that take them to the library.  I love that in most libraryschools they have a library so that kids can experience the thrill of being in the library.  A place where you can just look for the kinds of books that you want.  Some people get lost and don’t know where to begin.  That is where the smaller version inside of a school is so great.  Kids can learn how to find books in a library, but on a smaller scale.

I worked for a school district that had completely gotten rid of their librarians.  They replaced all of them with aids so that kids could check out books.  In some cases there was still story time, but for the most part any of the other perks like learning how to use the library and learning how to research were placed in the teachers hands.  As if teachers did not have enough responsibilities.

I did an author visit yesterday at a school, and one of the reasons the librarian mentioned that libraries are disappearing is because classrooms are required to have their own libraries.  I bet the people that did research on the value of books in the classroom didn’t realize that people would misinterpret that one and begin getting rid of libraries.

I believe that books should be both in the classroom and in the library.  Getting rid of libraries in the school because there are books in the classroom is as crazy as getting rid of town libraries because people have home libraries.  I completely disagree that either should have to suffer.

Some people will argue that funding is low in schools.  In my opinion, schools that get rid of books in schools should not have funding to begin with.  O.k maybe that is a little drastic, but seriously, how can you operate schools without books?

More and more schools are getting an increase in the amount of technology they have, but this is a whole different form of literacy.  This is called information literacy and it doesn’t replace reading.  I read a study yesterday that talked about how kids are using their laptops or computers and most of them are using them as word processors.  So the bulk of the time that they are on the computer is being spent writing final copies, vs. reading.

I have asked my own children how much time they spend on their computers, and both of them mentioned that even though they have their own computers they lug to and from school, they don’t actually use them a lot during the day. So computers aren’t replacing libraries and classroom libraries can’t replace libraries.

As much as I love schools, some crazy things are happening.  But what I love, even though some of these things are going on, and teachers have little control over it, great teachers are still introducing kids to great books.  Thank goodness we have teachers.  Teachers that no matter what is going on with funding and politics, do an amazing job and give our kids a first class education with what they have.  I know that all good teachers will always give the best education they possibly can.  I just hope that more schools would rethink the idea of getting rid of libraries and do the best that they can to make sure all kids have access to this amazing resource.

Where do you think libraries should be in schools?

Evaluating books – 7th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

Evaluating books – 7th 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 7 Habits of Highly Effective Readers and will give you information on what you can do to create an avid reader.


This is it.  The very last post in this series.  See how easy it can be to write a book.  I started this in September, and now the rough draft of the book is complete.  It just takes consistent action each day, and it is done in no time at all.

After a highly effective reader has finished a book, they immediately have a response.  They think, hmmm… “Did I like it or not like it?”  How a book ends plays a big-human-65931_640 part in whether someone likes a book or not.  If they don’t like the ending, then they most likely will not like it.

A group of 7th graders were reading the book Monsters by Walter Dean Myers and one girl said, “I have never liked a book that a teacher has suggested before.  This book has been great all the way until the end. I hate that the author ended the book with a question.”  That speaks volumes for how important an ending can be.  The book was great until the last sentence.  This reader doesn’t like to be left hanging, but it is allowing her to discover what she likes and doesn’t like about reading certain books.

Having an opinion about a book isn’t just liking it and not liking it.  It is backing up what you have to say.  Why do you like it?  Which parts did you like?  Which parts didn’t you like?  If you were the author, would you change anything?  If so, what would that be?

Having these opinions about books is pivotal to figuring out your own tastes in reading.  It helps you become a better judge of a book the next time you pick one up.  If you know that you don’t like a certain genre because it has never caught your attention, then you will be less likely to pick that genre up again.  However, if you did like a certain genre, then you may be more likely to pick it up again.

Getting into  the habit of evaluating a book is powerful for a child.  I am going to show you how powerful it can really be.  Remember at the beginning of the book when I mentioned that Goodreads was a good tool?  Well, now we are going to see how it is like Pandora.

Everyone loves Pandora for it’s ability to customize music channels with music you totally love.  Well Goodreads does the same thing for books.  You leave your recommendation for how you felt about a book and then rate it on a scale of 1-5 stars.  Based on your reviews Goodreads will recommend other books.  Here is how the stars break down.

1 star = I hated this book

2 stars = I did not like this book

3 stars = This book was o.k

4 stars = This book was really good

5 stars = I loved this book

Have your child create an account with their e-mail address.  If your child does not have an e-mail address, then you can sign up under an e-mail address that you do not access all the time.  Then your child can become active in the community and begin rating the books that she has read.  She can add just the latest book she has read or have fun with all the books she has read in the past year.

Then she can begin adding her recommendations.  Here is an outline of information to include in a recommendation.

Introduction – List the name of the book, the author, and who you would recommend the book to.

Summary – Give some information about the book.

Assessment – Describe why you liked it?

Conclusion – Why you rated it with the star’s that you gave it?

Recommendations don’t have to be long.  This is a simple formula to follow that can make it an easy task.  It is not a book report, just your overall opinion.

Why is this important for all kids to do?  Well, again it helps them figure out what kinds of books they enjoy reading, and it spreads the love of reading good books to others.

What books have you reviewed lately?

Making Connections: The 7th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

Making Connections: The 7th 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 7 Habits of Highly Effective Readers and will give you information on what you can do to create an avid reader.


Highly effective readers make 3 kinds of connections when they are reading.  These connections are called text to self, text to text, and text to world.  Any book a child is reading is considered text.  Let’s take a deeper look at what these connections are.

Text to self connections

Text to self connections occurs when a reader is reading something and all of a sudden the student thinks, “Oh, that has happened to me before.”  The reader is connecting on a personal level with what she is reading.  For children where this does not happen as naturally, they need an adult that can ask these kinds of questions.

1.  Has that ever happened to you before?  Tell me about it.

2.  Which character do you feel most like?  Why?

3.  How did you feel when that happened to you?  How do you feel about it now.

Being able to use text to self connections allows a reader to make better predictions about what is going to happen next in the story.  They can think back to their own situation and see if what happens next is similar to what happened to them.

Text to text connections

These connections are all about making connections with other books that the child has read.  The other day I was reading a book in RAZ-Kids, and it had the same pattern as Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle.  Since the child was unfamiliar with Brown Bear, Brown Bear I was able to introduce that book to him as well.  Sometimes books are familiar for the following reasons:

1.  Same pattern

2.  Same author, series, or writing style

3.  Similar plot

4.  Similar book layout

5.  Same genre

By making connections with other books readers are able to learn more about how different genres are written, specific author techniques, and so much more.  It gets the reader thinking beyond just the words that he/she is reading.  This is helpful for developing the difficult skill of inferencing, or what my teachers used to call it, reading between the lines.  Making these kinds of connections are not just right there kinds of connections.  They take a separate approach to being developed.  Here are some suggestions to get kids to begin making connections between books.  Image 11-7-13 at 9.44 AM

1.  Read two similar books

2.  As you are reading the second book guide the reader in making connections between the two books.

3.  Compare the two books using a Venn Diagram.  Where the two circles overlap you can write how the books are similar.  In the outer area of the circle you can put how they are different.


Text to World Connections

These connections are comparing things that are happening in our world currently.  Kids can often be cut off from the realities of the world, and this is the toughest type of connection to make.  A great book to use to teach about homelessness and what that can be like is Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting.  This book talks about a little boy who lives at an airport because his father and himself are homeless.  These kinds of books are helpful with developing compassion in children for them to be aware of other situations that out there.

Schools really focus on presidential elections every four years.  This is a good time to read books about elections, past presidents, and compare and contrast it to what is on going on today.  Again this can also be done a Venn Diagram format.

When kids are connecting with what they are reading, they are thinking.  Reading is all about thinking and engaging with the text.  It is not just accepting at face value what an author says to be the end of the experience.  By making connections we are helping kids to be thoughtful, careful, readers.

Do you notice yourself making connections when you are reading?  How does it effect your reading?





Winner of the Rafflecopter

Today I would like to congratulate our Rafflecopter winner of a signed copy of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader. And the winner is…

Sherryl Wilson of Florence Kentucky.

Today a new Rafflecopter giveaway will begin. Would you like to win your very own copy of 31 Days to Become a Better Reader: Increasing your struggling reader’s reading level? Then just fill out the form below.

Here are the details on how you can earn more entry points. 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.

Visualizing: The 7th 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.


Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. Even when they had passed out and were driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke. Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background. Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows, they drove, still in silence.

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books called Anne of Green Gables.  This was also the very first passage where I was hooked in reading because of how vividly I could picture the scene above.  I was not a highly effective reader as a child.  I struggled with comprehension and one of the big reasons that I struggled so much was because I specifically could not see the movie in my head.

Highly effective readers can see the movie all of the time.  They read something and then they can tell you what they read because it is like pressing replay on the remote control.  It is easy for them because they just replay it in their mind and tell you what happened.

Other readers struggle all of the time or some of the time, just like I did.  So how can we help readers see the movie in their head?

1.  Increase their vocabulary

2.  Eliminate distracting thoughts

3.  Be alert when reading

4.  Ask the reader what she sees

First, if there are too many words that a reader does not know the meaning of, then this will hinder a movie from happening in the mind.  You can try doing a word of the day program to increase words, but even if you are consistant that is only 365 words a year.  So implementing this with teaching the child how to figure out words on her own will be highly beneficial.  This strategy is known as context clues.  The child uses the words and sentences around a word to figure out the meaning of an unknown word.  For example, in the passage above is the word rapturously.  Some clues to this word are given by the way the girl is holding her hands.  The passage says, “hands clasped before her.”  It also talks about the splendor of her surroundings.  From this I can picture a girl that is wide eyed and paying close attention to detial.

Once the reader has used the details around the word to get a feel for it, then she can look it up if she needs more details.  She can do this using a physical dictionary or an electronic dictionary in the form of an app or the internet.  I personally like to type into google, define rapturously, and the definition is the first thing that comes up.  The definitions are pretty kid friendly most of the time.  When I do this I see that the definition is ecstatically.

Also a reader should pay attention to how many words are unknown to her.  If there are 5 or more on a page, then the book is too hard for her and she should look for a book that will be a better fit.

Another thing that hinders readers from understanding what they are reading are distracting thoughts.  I know you know what I am talking about.  It happens to all of us.  You spend 5 mintues reading only to realize that all of a sudden you don’t know anything that you have just read.  When this happens, most people go back and reread if they feel it is necessary.  The key though, is to name what is happening so that you can do something about it quicker.  If you know that you are having distracting thoughts, like what am I going to have for dinner, then you can stop having them as frequently.

Readers’s are always able to make better mind movies when they are alert vs. when they are tired.  So, when your child is reading, make sure to do so when she is alert.  It is easier to be distracted  when you are tired and it is makes it much more difficult to pay attention and create mind movies.

Lastly, talking about the mind movies you see can make them even more vivid.  You can talk about details that are there as well as details that are not in the book, but you see anyways.  If your child just says they don’t know or they can’t do it, then have the child read what she has read again and talk about it together.  Begin to paint the pictures for her so she can see how the words in the books create pictures in her mind.

Visualizing is the habit that will make and break effective readers.  You absolutely cannot be an effective reader without being able to visualize.  This is why there is so much emphasis on this strategy in schools.  So if you want to aid visualizing for a child, then help increase their vocabulary, help them identify distracting thoughts, make sure the child is alert, and ask them to describe in their words what they see.

What are some things that you do when you realize that you are not visualizing?