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NCTE Guideline

Read Together: Parents and Educators Working Together for Literacy


Developing Young Readers

 Learning to read doesn't happen magically. Parents and teachers play important roles in developing young readers. Supporting a child is best accomplished when parents and teachers share common methods and basic understandings about the reading process. This brochure describes ways you can help your child as a reader. As you work together, celebrate your child's efforts and successes--just as you did when your child learned to walk and talk.

Three Ways to Read Aloud

  1. Child reads to parent.
    Your child gains confidence in reading ability. Emphasize your child's positive achievements. Have your child reread the same material to develop more confident reading ability.
  2. Parent reads to child.
    Read aloud to your child to build positive attitudes toward books, to develop an understanding of written language, and to enjoy the sound of spoken language. You may choose books above your child's reading ability. Be sure the books will interest your child. You may even let your child choose the books. 
  3. Child and parent read together.
    Take turns reading paragraphs or pages in a challenging or long book. Always be positive and lighthearted. Have fun sharing the reading material and your time together! Discontinue the reading if the reading experience becomes tense.

While you read the book . . .

  • allow your child to spontaneously comment on events and characters in the story.
  • discuss the predictions, opinions, thoughts, ideas, connections, and questions you and your child may have.

Encourage your child to spontaneously comment on events and characters in the story. Explore comments or connections that might not yet make sense; all learners' responses are purposeful and show their attempts to make the reading meaningful.

Discuss the predictions, opinions, thoughts, ideas, connections, and questions you and your child may have. We know that readers understand books differently, depending on their experiences. Differing ideas add value to conversations about stories.

These are natural and meaningful ways to know if your child is understanding the story.

How Can I Help My Child Learn to Read?

Research findings in early literacy have shown that the most important factors enabling children to become readers are:

  • exposure to books and literature from infancy
  • awareness of print around them (cereal boxes, store signs, freeway signs, etc.)
  • awareness of letters, words, labels, and letter sounds in real-life contexts
  • 10-30 minutes of daily reading aloud
  • regular visits to the public library
  • accessible books that interest children
  • time to enjoy books by themselves
  • parents/adults who read and value reading
  • rich and varied experiences (visits to the zoo, aquarium, museums, fairs, etc.).

Most importantly, daily support from parents and adults significantly increases success in reading.

What Should I Do When My Child Gets Stuck?

  • Ask the child, "what would make sense here?"
  • Have the child look at the pictures to see if they give any clues.
  • Skip the word or phrase and come back to it later.
  • Ask the child, "What word would make sense and begins with that letter?"
  • Have the child look at the word and say it slowly as you run your finger under it.
  • Ask the child, "Do you see a part of the word that you know?"
  • Telling the word to the child is okay at times.

Emergent Readers

Child is learning about print and is becoming aware that print tells a story or gives information. Child uses pictures to retell what is in a book.

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear
    by Bill Martin
  • Count and See
    by Tana Hoban
  • Each Peach Pear Plum
    by Janet and Alan Ahlberg
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
    by Eileen Christelow
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster
    by Ed Emberley
  • "More, More, More" Said the Baby
    by Vera B. Williams
  • My First Book of Songs
    by Jane L. Manning
  • My Aunt Came Back
    by Pat Cummings
  • No, No, Jo!
    by Kate H. McMullan
  • On Mothers Lap
    by Ann Herbert Scott
  • Rosie's Walk
    by Pat Hutchins
  • Sweet Baby Coming
    by Eloise Greenfield
  • Who Sank the Boat?
    by Pamela Allen

Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.

--Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children

Early Readers

Child begins to use knowledge of letter/sound relationships and is developing a sight vocabulary of high frequency words (a, and, the, etc.). Child uses print and pictures to read a story and begins to point to actual words being read.

  • Bony Legs
    by Joanna Cole
  • The Carrot Seed
    by Ruth Krauss
  • Daddy Play with Me
    by Sigeo Watanabe
  • Fox in Love
    by Jim Marshall
  • Go, Dog. Go!
    by Philip D. Eastman 
  • I Like Books
    by Anthony Browne 
  • It Looks Like Spilt Milk
    by Charles Shaw 
  • Just Grandma and Me
    by Mercer Mayer 
  • Mama, Do You Love Me?
    by Barbara M. Joose 
  • Messy Bessy
    by Patricia McKissack 
  • Noisy Nora
    by Rosemary Wells 
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
    by Simms Taback 
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    by Eric Carle 
  • Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
    by John Steptoe 
  • New Cat
    by Yangsook Choi 
  • On Mother's Lap
    by Ann Herbert Scott 
  • Que Sorpresa de Cumpleaños!
    by Loretta Lopez 
  • Stinky Cheese Man
    by Jon Scieszka 
  • Strega Nona
    by Tomie de Paola 
  • Swimmy
    by Leo Leonni 
  • The Trees of Dancing Goats
    by Patricia Polacco 
  • The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella
    by Penny Pollock 
  • Where the Wild Things Are
    by Maurice Sendak

You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold, richer than I you can never be-I had a Mother who read to me.

--"The Reading Mother," by Strickland Gillilan, from Best Loved Poems of the People

Fluent Readers

Child is able to read independently and reads fluently for meaning. Sentence structure is varied and child need not rely on repetition or patterned sentences.

  • Amelia Bedelia
    by Peggy Parrish
  • Borrequita and the Coyote
    by Verna Aardema 
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog
    by Norman Bridwell 
  • The Drinking Gourd
    by F. N. Monjo 
  • Finding the Titanic
    by Robert Ballard 
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends
    by Arnold Lobel 
  • Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea
    by Cynthia Rylant 
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
    by Don and Audrey Wood 
  • Nate the Great
    by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  • A Picture Book of Rosa Parks
    by Davis Adler 
  • Stories Julian Tells
    by Ann Cameron 
  • Too Many Tamales
    by Gary Soto 
  • Whales
    by Seymour Simon

Great Read-Alouds

Infants, toddlers, and beginning readers will have a wonderful time listening to these favorite stories read to them by parents.

  • Abuela
    by Arthur Dorros
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
    by Judith Viorst 
  • Dancing Feet
    by Charlotte Ageli 
  • A Day's Work
    by Eve Bunting 
  • Dr. DeSoto
    by William Steig 
  • Flossie and the Fox
    by Pat McKissack 
  • Good Night Moon
    by Margaret Wise Brown 
  • Grandmother's Dreamcatcher
    by Becky Ray McCain 
  • Ira Sleeps Over
    by Bernard Waber 
  • The Island of the Skog
    by Stephen Kellogg 
  • Koala Lou
    by Mem Fox 
  • Minty, the Story of Young Harriett Tubman
    by Alan Schroeder

Signs of Reading Development

  • Holds a book right-side up
  • Turns pages from right to left
  • Interprets pictures and makes up a story using pictures to read
  • Retells a story in sequence
  • Mimics and points to print but without voice and word matching
  • Memorizes stories
  • Begins to gain knowledge of letters and sounds and letter/sound relationships
  • Begins to recognize names, words on cereal boxes, labels on toys, names of stores and restaurants
  • Finger points to read single words
  • Asks questions about what a word is
  • Begins to identify common, high frequency words (a, and, the, it, is, will, go, to, etc.)
  • Attends to beginning consonant sounds
  • Attends to ending consonant sounds
  • Uses picture cues to read unknown words
  • Self-corrects when something doesn't make sense or doesn't sound right
  • Develops fluency with practice

Sponsored by the Reading Commission

  • Mary H. Maguire, Director
  • Bess I. Altwerger
  • Evelyn Hanssen
  • Debra Jacobson
  • Kristina Jilbert
  • Carmen I. Mercado
  • Carol Porter
  • Ruth J. Saez-Vega
  • Joann Wong-Kam
  • and Vicki Zack with Anna Sumida

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