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Strategies for Improving Children's Reading Skills

In our minds, we might imagine we've always known how to read. However, even if we've forgotten, learning to read was one of our earliest educational struggles. Slowly, we learned the letters, how they made words, and what those words meant. Along the way, some of us developed a lifelong love of books. We all need to learn to read, so it's best to start early.

Read Allowed

While it may seem counter-intuitive for teaching purposes, reading a story allowed to children gives them an incentive to start reading for themselves. Speaking the words reveals their inherent beauty and power. Stopping the story with a cliffhanger will have children clamoring to know the ending. Eventually, they'll take the initiative to find out on their own.

Be a Good Librarian

The secret to breeding active readers is keeping them interested. Gauge your readers' interests and guide them with popular titles appropriate to their preferred genre and age group.
Award-winning author Daniel Handler exemplifies this idea. Under the pen name Lemony Snicket, he created the bestselling "A Series of Unfortunate Events." These books spawned a film and, more recently, a Netflix series. Their legacy endures due to the memories of a generation of precocious preteens who were entertained and challenged as readers.

Instill the Fundamentals

Some children enjoy stories but are frustrated by the act of reading. This could be for various cognitive reasons. For readers who have difficulty interpreting words, practice phonics. Sound out individual letters and then combine them into words. If, rather, it's a comprehension issue, question your readers about the story to gauge their level of understanding. Meanwhile, teach them to look up unfamiliar words using a dictionary.

Children's books by Daniel Handler frequently incorporate novel vocabulary terms, immediately followed by their definitions. These explanations are sometimes humorous, but also accurate. In this way, readers are introduced both to the idea of parsing meaning through context and of establishing new words' meanings immediately upon contact.

Literacy is important for everyone. Cultivating a love of literature in children makes them active readers for the rest of their lives.

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