What to look for in a Good Reader

What signs to I look for in a developing good reader?

All children learn to read at different rates and have different strengths and abilities but if you have a child who enjoys reading then there is a good chance that they are developing into a good reader. It is never to early to start learning to enjoy books so make sure they have seen plenty of them before it is time to start learning to read. Following are some signs that you can look out for in developing readers:

Do they read easy texts smoothly?

If a child’s reading is slow and laboured or they take an abnormal amount of time to work out most of the words it is difficult for them to understand what is being read. The book is  too hard for them. Find an easier book, they are going to be reading for meaning first and foremost so need to be able to read enough of the text to get some meaning from it.

Do they know most of the words?

If a lot of effort is being put into working out many of the individual words then the book is too hard and they may need to work on their sight words. There should be a certain amount of fluency or meaning is too hard to grasp and that, after all, is the purpose of reading.

Do they use a variety of strategies when they come across unfamiliar words?

A struggling reader will often have a limited number of strategies so note how they address unfamiliar words. When listening to them read encourage them to try any of the following:

  • sound out the word letter by letter,
  • read past the word and re-read to see if they can work out a word that makes sense,
  • break the word up into syllables or its parts,
  • attempt saying the word and check that they recognise it and it makes sense,
  • have a go then move on

Do they understand what they’re reading?

Look for the following signs. A normal child won’t sit and stare at a book for any length of time without actually reading or engaging with it.

  • Do they read alone and engage in the reading (ie laughing etc)?
  • Can they answer a few questions about a piece of text they have read?
  • Can they retell what they have read about, paraphrasing the story,
  • If it’s a picture book go through the pages and ask them to tell you what happens on each page
  • Write them a set of instructions and get them to follow them – like a treasure hunt

Helping your child in their progress to becoming an independent reader is an investment in their future and it can be fun and rewarding for both of you. It is important that they see you read and interact with texts. You are their first and most important role model.