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Help Your Child Learn To Read. This workshop will give you the tools to help you help your child. . Purpose. The purpose of this workshop is to help first grade parents gain a better understanding of what they can do at home to help their child learn to read.

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help your child learn to read

Help Your Child Learn To Read

This workshop will give you the tools to help you help your child.

  • The purpose of this workshop is to help first grade parents gain a better understanding of what they can do at home to help their child learn to read.
  • It will teach you the tools used in your child’s first grade classroom so there will be a consistency and a connection between school and home learning.
  • It will give parents a knowledge base of how to select appropriate materials and how to use these materials effectively in order to meet the individual needs of your child.
from this workshop you will learn the following
From This Workshop You Will Learn the Following:
  • How to:
    • Help prepare your child before reading a book
    • Cue your child when they come to a word they don’t know
    • Teach them skills that will help them read independently
    • Select appropriate books for your child
    • Teach your child how to think about what they are reading in order to gain meaning from the books
    • Read orally with them in order to build their vocabulary
    • Find useful websites that support their literacy
taking a book walk before reading
Taking a Book Walk – Before Reading

The purpose of taking a book walk is to interest your child in the story, relate it to their experiences, and provide a frame of meaning that will support this.

The introduction should be conversational rather than a prescribed story review or series of questions. It should use important vocabulary or proper names that may be difficult.

It “debugs” the book by directing the child’s attention to new text features they will need to use as readers.

Fountas & Pinnell, 1996

how to take a book walk
How to Take a Book Walk
  • Read aloud the title and the author with your child.
  • Tell your child what the book is about.
  • Call attention to any difficult words, asking your child to locate it and look at its specific features.
  • Have your child look through the pictures and gain some meaning as to what the story is about.
  • Ask your child to make some predictions.

Now They Are Ready to Read…

during reading
During Reading
  • Listen to your child as he/she reads aloud to you.
  • Try not to interrupt and allow him/her time to try and solve difficult words on their own.
  • Observe what he/she is doing as they read. Pay attention to any errors but do not interrupt.
  • Allow your child to try and solve any difficulties on their own.
the three reading cue systems
The Three Reading Cue Systems
  • Meaning Cues
    • A Sense of story
    • Prior Knowledge
    • Illustrations

Meaning Cues come from children’s life experiences. Meaning is represented in their memories and in the language they use to talk about that meaning.

(Clay, 1993a)

the three reading cue systems9
The Three Reading Cue Systems
  • Structure Cues
    • Natural Language
    • Knowledge of English
    • Grammatical Patterns and Language Structures

Structure comes from knowing how oral language is put together. Language is rule-governed; words are strung together conforming to rules.

(Clay, 1993a)

the three reading cue systems10
The Three Reading Cue Systems
  • Visual Cues
    • Sounds and Symbols
    • Print Conventions
      • Directionality
      • Words/Spaces
      • Letters
      • Beginnings/Endings
      • Punctuation

Visual information comes from knowing the relationship between oral language and its graphic symbols – the letters that are formed into words, divided by spaces, and arranged on the page, as well as the conventions of print such as punctuation. (Clay, 1993a)

how to cue your child
How To Cue Your Child
  • Ask: “What would make sense here?”

(Meaning Cue)

  • Ask: “What would sound right here?”

(Structure Cue)

  • Ask: “What does it look like?”

(Visual Cue)

These cues will help them look at the meaning of the text, the letters that make up the word, and what they know about the English language.

let s try using meaning cues
Let’s Try Using Meaning Cues!

Correct Sentence: The bear is eating with his paws.

Child Says: The dog is eating with his paws.

Now, what do you say?

  • Point out: “Look at that word again (pointing to “bear”). Let’s look at the picture and think about what’s happening in the story.”
  • Question: “What kind of animal is that? Does it look like a dog or something else?”
  • Remind: “So when we are reading, we can use the pictures to help us with words we don’t know.”
let s try using structure cues
Let’s Try Using Structure Cues!

Correct Sentence: I got a new bike.

Child Says: I got a not bike.

Now, what do you say?

  • Point out: “Look at that word again (pointing to “new”). Let’s think about the way we talk.”
  • Question: “You said I got a not bike. Does that sound right? Do we say it that way?”
  • Remind: “So when we are reading, we can think about the way we talk to help us understand what the story is saying.”
let s try using visual cues
Let’s Try Using Visual Cues

Correct Sentence: I go to school.

Child Says: I went to school.

Now, what do you say?

Point out: “Look at that word again (pointing to “go”). Let’s look at the letters in that word.

Question: “You said went. Does that look right? What would you see at the beginning if it said went? What would you see at the end? What do you see at the beginning of that word? And at the end? What do you think it could be?”

Remind: “So when we are reading, we need to look at the letters in the word to figure out what it is.”

after reading
After Reading
  • Engage your child in a conversation about the story.
  • Encourage your child to develop and defend a well-grounded interpretation of their own
  • Provide opportunities for your child to express their thoughts about characters and events with open-ended discussions

These types of aesthetic responses will help your child gain a love for reading and will enhance cognitive aspects.

(Murphy, 1998)

key points
Key Points
  • Ask your child’s teacher what his/her reading level is and if they can send hoe some books at their level. Your local library will also have leveled books or you can search online.
  • Be sure the book you choose to read with your child is something they can handle. If you find them making lots of errors, try a different book.
  • Do not correct every mistake!
    • Let them try it first on their own, if they get stuck use appropriate questions to help them figure it out on their own.
    • After reading, then go point out one or two places where you can use the cues.
book selection
Book Selection
  • If a child’s eyes are skimming over the words and he/she finishes the book with no grasp of the plot line and no visual images, then a reading experience can be destructive.
  • Books should provide enjoyment and engage children through humor and interesting stories.
  • If your child is reading well and finding new learning opportunities on a particular level, the selection is probably about right.
  • Stories that are characterized by novelty, humor, conflict, and surprise build intrest and intrinsic motivation.

(Calkins, 2001)

(Fountas & Pinnell, 1996)

(Elley, 1989)

how to select appropriate books
How To Select Appropriate Books
  • Ask your child’s teacher what their reading level is. The local library and book stores have leveled books for you to choose from.
  • If you are selecting books on your own, look for:
    • Clear text layout
    • Clear print
    • Not too many lines of text on each page
    • Sufficient space between words
  • Allow your child to select books from his/her level that they find interesting.
how to make meaning during reading
How to Make Meaning During Reading

Making Text-to-self Connections

  • Does something from the story remind them of something that has happened in their own lives?
  • When they can relate to the events or characters, this helps them have a better understanding of what is happening or the way the characters are feeling (Owocki, 2003)

What to say:

  • What does this remind you of?
  • How does this connection help you understand the story better?
  • Has this connection changed your thinking?

Read Aloud Books to Support this strategy:

  • The Relatives Came by Cynthis Rylant
  • Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe
  • My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
how to make meaning during reading21
How to Make Meaning During Reading

Making Text-to-text Connections

  • Does the characters or events in this story remind them of any other stories they have read?
  • These type of connections help them relate their knowledge of the story to other stories to gain a better understanding. (Owocki, 2003)

What to say:

  • Does this story remind you of any other stories you have read?
  • Have you seen something like this in another book?
  • How does this connection help you better understand they story?

Real Aloud Books to Support This Strategy

  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie DePaola
  • Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola and The Two of Them by Aliki
how to make meaning during reading22
How to Make Meaning During Reading


  • When children visualize, the create mental pictures in their head based on what they have read and what they have experienced in their lives.
  • It involves using all of their senses to get a better understanding of the story.

(Owocki, 2003)

What to say:

  • What pictures, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches do you think of as you are reading this?
  • How does this help you understand the story better?

Read Aloud Books to Support this Strategy

  • Night Sounds, Morning Colors by Rosemary Wells
  • The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
  • Quiet, Please by Eve Merriam
how to make meaning during reading23
How to Make Meaning During Reading

Making Inferences

  • This strategy involves using background knowledge to make decisions about texts.
  • Many feeling and thoughts are not explicitly stated texts.

(Owocki, 2003)

What to say:

  • How do you think the character is feeling?
  • What do you think this means?
  • How does this help you understand the story better?

Read Aloud Books to Support this Strategy

Miss Maggie by Cynthis Rylant

If You Listen by Charlotte Zolotow

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

how to make meaning during reading24
How to Make Meaning During Reading


  • Good readers generate questions as they read.
  • Questioning helps them to think deeply about the text. (Owocki, 2003)

What to say:

  • Do you have any questions about the story so far?
  • Where could you find the answers?

Read Aloud Books that Support this Strategy

  • Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
  • Amelia’s Road by Linda Altman
  • All I See by Cynthia Rylant
key points25
Key Points
  • At this age, children may need your helping in thinking deeply about the text.
  • These strategies can be used with books the students are reading or with books you read aloud to them.
  • Discussions about reading will create a strong foundation for supporting listening and reading comprehension.
  • Active readers are effective readers. They use all kinds of knowledge and experience to understand the author’s message.

(Owocki, 2003)

reading orally to your child
Reading Orally to your child
  • During book-reading episodes, parents can introduce new words, test, and reinforce children’s recall of new information.
  • Parents should ask clarifying questions to continue discussions on topics introduced by the child in relation to the story.
  • It is through social interaction between a learned adult and a child that learning occurs.
  • Oral story reading is a significant source of vocabulary acquisition.

(Elley, 1989)

what you should do when reading to your child
What you should do when reading to your child?
  • Read stories more than once.
  • Point out illustrations that match new vocabulary concepts so your child can associate a new label with a familiar concept.
  • Read the text as presented but emphasize certain words by repeating them.
  • Ask why? Questions or open-ended questions more frequently than what? and where? questions.
  • Use recasts which builds on a child’s statement.

For example, child says, “Here’s a frog.” Parent says, “It’s a big, green frog.”

(Senechal & Cornell, 1993)

let s see an example
Let’s See an Example

The following video clip demonstrates a parent and child reading together. Pay close attention to the strategies the parents use in helping the child pay attention to the words and meaning of the stories.

Click the TV to view the video clip

websites that support children s reading
Websites That Support Children’s Reading
  • Beaverton School District Leveled Book Database – this site will help you find out the level of particular books

  • Houghton Mifflin Education Place – this site has online books with related activities

  • Interactive Games – this site has literacy learning games

  • Reading Skills Rocket – this site has learning activities that correlate with the stories read from the basal reader in first grade

  • Starfall – this site has activities to enhance reading skills in word work and comprehension at different ability levels


Calkins, L.M. (2001). The Art of Teaching Reading, NewYork: Longman.

Clay, M.M. (1993a). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Elley, W.B. (1989). Vocabulary acquisition from listening to stories. Reading

Research Quarterly, 24, 174-187.

Fountas I.C. & Pinnell, G.S. (1996). Guided Reading: Good First Teaching For All Chldren. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Juel C. & Minden-Cupp, C. (2000). Learning to read words: Linguistic units and instructional strategies. Reading Research Quarterly. 35, 458-492.

Miller, D. (2002). Reading With Meaning. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Murphy, S. (1998). Remembering that reading is “a way of happening”. The Clearing House, 72, 89-96.

Owocki, G. (2003). Comprehension: Strategic Instruction for K-3 Students. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

PBS Kids. (2005). Retrieved July 3, 2006.

Pressley, M. (2001). Comprehension instruction: What makes sense now, what might make sense soon. Reading Online. 5, Retrieved from: Retrieved July 1, 2006 from

Senechal, A. & Cornell, E.H. (1993). Vocabulary acquisition through shared reading experiences. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 361-374.