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Paired Reading: How To Beat The Summer Doldrums

Summer vacation is quickly coming to a close and by now many parents are ready to pull their hair out, because their little darlings have used the phrase “I’m bored” one too many times. My usual response to that statement is “go find a book to read.” However, I have rediscovered the value of reading stories and books online. There are thousands of virtual books and stories that can be accessed on a computer or tablet. Many of them are animated and reading books on the computer is a wonderful way to combine learning, spending time together and fun.

I rediscovered this resource last week when I was blessed to spend time with my young nephew. He has some neurological concerns that make holding a book challenging. In spite of that, as soon as he uttered the word “bored” I opened up my laptop and we started reading. I pulled up a popular children’s educational website, with animated story characters and the time flew by! We had so much fun that he did not want to stop reading. I can still hear him laughing at the animated characters each time we reread the short story.

What made our time together even more significant, was that I was able to use the same reading strategies that I’ve used in the classroom with actual books. We were able to work on his vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and pacing using the computer. I was even able to conduct an informal reading assessment, to gage his independent reading level. The computer has many amazing applications such as a highlighting tool to emphasize unfamiliar words, and audio devices to read stories out loud. These mechanisms can be quite effective to use when implementing reading strategies, and thankfully most of them are quite simple to use.

Here are some tips that will not only help beat the summer doldrums, but will enable you to spend some quality time with your children. When new stories are introduced, these strategies will help prevent stress during reading sessions and promote good reading habits.

  1. To avoid frustrating struggling readers, choose stories that are on or slightly below the student’s independent reading ability. (Once the student gains confidence in their reading ability, the level of difficulty can be gradually increased.)
  2. Make sure struggling reader1s have a buddy when reading stories on the computer. This can be a parent, or older sibling. (If you don’t have the time or the patience, consider hiring a college student in the neighborhood to sit and read with your child for no more than ninety minutes per session.)
  3. Have students look at the pictures first, and ask them to make a prediction about what is going to happen in the story.
  4. Next identify any sight words or vocabulary that might be challenging for the student. Say the word and ask the student if they can find the word on the page.

Example: soft
Parent Asks: Can you find the word soft?
Parent sounds out the word: s-o-f-t

If the story is appropriate for the child’s reading level there should not be many difficult words.

  1. Parents or buddy readers should read each new sentence at least two times while the student listens. Place your finger on the screen and tap under each word as you read. Next, read the sentence two more times along with the student. Finally, allow the student to read the sentence independently. The next time the story is read the student should be allowed to read to the parent or buddy reader.

If this article has been helpful to you, or if you know anyone who struggles to read, please feel free to pass it on.