DIY Summer Reading Program: Increase Comprehension at Home
Summer reading shouldn't feel like homework. Leisure reading improves both vocabulary and comprehension. The key word is “leisure.” Don’t turn reading at home into a classroom exercise. Encourage your child to read for pleasure.
Set a good example: Be a bookworm family. Natalie is a struggling reader, but she is motivated to read anyway. I believe, and research supports, that watching her big brother, Aaron, and me read for fun is the reason.
Use reading comprehension exercises to boost skills. Kids with ADD/ADHD and LD may need help from parents to acquire decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension. Have your child read short passages aloud, and ask him questions about what he’s read. Encourage him to summarize what’s happening in the story, and to predict what will happen next. Ask him to re-read difficult passages. Good readers do these things automatically, but children who lose focus easily need adult guidance. Natalie likes to play teacher, and asks me to predict what will happen when we read stories together.
Read at the right level. Books should fit a child’s reading level. Ask your librarian or bookstore staff to recommend appropriate books, or select books with the level of difficulty displayed on the front or back cover. Or try this test: Open a prospective book to any page, and have your child start reading. Count the words she can’t read. If there are fewer than five, the book’s a keeper. Five or more? Keep looking.
Reading quantity counts. There’s a strong relationship between the number of books read and a child’s improvement in reading ability. Reading at least four or five books each summer produces big skill-saving. Let your child choose books that fit his interests. Garfield -- or, in Natalie’s case, Captain Underpants -- is as effective in sharpening reading skills as are more serious books. Popular series -- Harry Potter and others -- are especially good at keeping children reading.
Try reading aloud or listen to audio books. Sometimes Natalie will bring home a book that is popular with classmates, but that is too hard for her to read. There are ways, though, for her to have her book and “read” it, too. Kids are never too old to be read aloud to, and they can benefit from following along as you read. Natalie and I enjoyed the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series together this way. Or you can pair an audio book with the print version, and let your child read silently along with the narrator.