We read directions to perform a task, we read newspapers to be informed and we read novels for the literary experience. Students are now required on state exams to have solid reading skills, and children who do not master “reading for different purposes” may have difficulty completing job-related tasks or reading for enjoyment as an adult.
As students become sophisticated readers, their reading behaviors become more analytical and their thinking more abstract. They begin to dissect words for meaning while expanding their vocabularies.
The more students read, the more enjoyable reading becomes and the more reading skills are used in real-life situations. These skills transfer to classroom learning and may lead to higher standardized test scores.
To help parents nurture their children’s reading behaviors, the experts at Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages and skill levels, recommend that parents spend at least 10 to 15 minutes a day engaged in a language arts activity with children. Sylvan offers tips for encouraging “reading for different purposes”:
* Encourage reading a variety of texts, including books, poems, magazine articles, manuals, cookbooks and comic books.
* Look at every reading opportunity as a chance to strengthen comprehension skills.
* Identify a purpose for reading anything that includes text. This could be a menu, advertisement, recipe, textbook or a full-length novel. Is the purpose to entertain, inform, describe or persuade?
* Actively engage children in the reading process. Ask children to explain the main characters, plot, conflict, setting or lesson in a story. Encourage them to explain the purpose of an ad in a magazine. Ask your child to summarize the steps needed to complete a set of instructions or perform a task.
* Encourage students to paraphrase what they learn from everything that they read.
The Internet also provides reading opportunities for children of all ages. For example, www.BookAdventure.com is a free, Sylvan-created interactive reading motivation program. Children choose books from more than 7,000 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem accumulated points for small prizes. Book Adventure also offers teacher and parent resources to help children develop a lifelong love of reading.