by Jane McGivern Levine
Article provided by Sylvan Learning Center
Good readers of all ages share similar traits--four, to be exact--that not only help them to appreciate the literature in front of them, but also create an effective reader framework to improve comprehension and build critical reading skills. Does your child exhibit the following traits? If not, help him develop the secrets of successful readers.
What does your child bring to the text? Does he or she draw from personal connections and prior knowledge? Successful readers engage in internal dialogue by asking questions such as "Does this make sense?" and "Does this word sound right?"
Like detectives, good readers examine the evidence, make reasonable predictions, and draw conclusions. They determine meaning by searching for context, picture, and phonetic clues. Suffixes, prefixes, and root words, like little puzzle pieces, help them to decode and understand words. Successful readers also notice signal and transition words such as first, in conclusion, and for example. These words help to provide structure, establish sequence, and introduce new thoughts or actions.
All readers become confused or lose the meaning of the text sometimes, but successful readers know when to stop and reread the passage. They might even use a stickie-note to write a thought or question to answer later. A good reader also uses sensory clues and description to visualize characters, settings, and action. Some think of it as watching a movie playing in their minds.
Does your child notice how a text or novel is organized? Knowledge of structure can help provide him or her with valuable information about content. For example, when she's studying for a test, headings, subheadings, and highlighted words are easy guides to pertinent information. In novels, double-spacing within a chapter usually indicates a change of setting.
Learning to identify the genre of a book can be beneficial, too. Is it a fantasy, mystery, or biography? Maybe it is an historical or science fiction novel. Each genre has its own specific structure. Biographies often follow a time-line format, while fantasies tend to be plot driven.
Ability to choose appropriate materials
Good readers choose books they are able to read, while less adept readers often pick books that are too difficult for them. The perfect book stretches a child's capabilities without causing frustration. What is appropriate reading content for a seventh grader may not be appropriate for a third grader, even though she is able to decode the words.
Children need to experiment to find books that are a good fit for them. Many discover a particular author or series that they enjoy. Others get recommendations from their friends, teachers, or librarians. There are so many wonderful books to choose from to meet every child's particular needs. Help your child to learn how to select wisely.
Appreciation of the payoffs
Good readers live vicariously through a book's characters. They understand that distant planets, foreign cultures, and even ancient history can become readily accessible with a turn of the page. To them, books mean knowledge, adventure, and relaxation.