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For the love of reading 4 - Kids Read Now

For the LOVE of reading: A 4-part series with ideas to help develop strong literacy skills (Part 4 of 4)

Educators, parents and caregivers, literacy experts, and school leaders: This series is for you! Kids Read Now is thrilled to present this series on fostering a love of reading from guest author Dr. Wendy Strickler, Assistant Professor in Reading Science and Director of Teacher Advancement Programs at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The secret to shaping Language Comprehension that fosters a love of reading in even the youngest students

In the first blog post, I described the formula for thinking about parts of reading called the Simple View of Reading. To build proficient reading skills, we need to help kids develop printed Word Recognition and Language Comprehension. 

Early on, these skills are developed separately because kids are working on “reading” (cracking the code) for smaller words than they are ready for in learning word meaning. 

This blog will focus on one early skill that is part of Language Comprehension – listening to the text and understanding what words mean (vocabulary), building knowledge about different topics and concepts, and learning about language structure (e.g. a story that starts “Once upon a Time” follows a different pattern than a non-fiction book about dinosaurs). 

To work on the Language Comprehension part:

Read aloud to your kids as much as you can. Whether snuggled on the couch or at a picnic, take a book along and read aloud. All books and reading are great. If you are thinking specifically about building this language piece that is so important for reading, think about different types of books that are fun and teach different parts of our language.

For example:

  • Fancy Nancy and Mercy Watson have lots of great big vocabulary. Kids feel smart when they learn and can use big fancy new words. 
  • Magic Treehouse and Flat Stanley take kids on great adventures to learn about other parts of the world or times in history. This is great for building knowledge. Non-fiction books do this as well!
  • Some books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie teach cause and effect in a funny way. 

These are simply suggestions – good stories entertain us and teach us things, even when we don’t realize we are learning about story structure or vocabulary. That’s the great part. It’s fun to snuggle up with a good book together and it is helping our kids’ minds to grow.

Resources to support reading fluency and comprehension at home: 

So enough of reading this! Grab a book and snuggle up with your kiddo!

Dr. Wendy Strickler has a Ph.D. and Masters from the University of Cincinnati, with a Curriculum Instruction and Professional Development license from Miami University. She has taught courses at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked in PreK-12 education for about 20 years. She is currently serving as an Assistant Professor in Reading Science & Director of Teacher Advancement Programs. Her career began with teaching preschool for children with developmental disabilities in Montreal, Canada. More about Dr. Wendy Strickler

Ignite the LOVE of reading in each of your students!

Just because it has the word “science” in its name doesn’t mean the Science of Reading has to mean dull, methodical teaching and learning. As Dr. Wendy Strickler reiterates, it’s all about the love of reading.

Still, so much of learning to read requires decoding word after word after word… after word… The cognitive load of this tactical work can be exhausting, particularly for nonreaders, emerging readers, struggling readers, and our youngest students.

On top of that, what if they can’t access the text? What if it’s too hard? (Remember: any number times zero is zero…) How do we help these readers develop a love of reading?

Never fear! Language Comprehension is here! 

In the final entry of her 4-part series, guest author Dr. Wendy Strickler discussed how Language Comprehension differs from Word Recognition. She got specific about the best ways to build understanding with students before they’ve developed into strong readers – without extinguishing all the joy. 

Now that you’re finished, we hope you’re inspired to ignite the LOVE of reading in each of your students (especially after reading her last line)!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Simple View of Reading formula presented as a multiplication equation?

The Simple View of Reading is presented as a multiplication equation (Decoding x Comprehension = Reading) to emphasize that both decoding (word recognition) and comprehension are equally essential for reading success. This formula underscores the idea that if either decoding or comprehension is weak (e.g., one is zero), reading proficiency may not be achieved.

What all is involved in Language Comprehension?

Language comprehension encompasses a reader’s ability to understand and make meaning from the text they read. It involves vocabulary, background knowledge, making inferences and other comprehension strategies, and context. Language Comprehension involves syntax and semantics.

What are examples of comprehension strategies students need to learn?

Students should learn a variety of comprehension strategies. These include making predictions, asking questions, visualizing the text, making connections to their own experiences, summarizing, and monitoring their understanding. These strategies help them actively engage with the text and enhance their comprehension skills.

How can parents and caregivers support fluency and comprehension at home?

Parents and caregivers can support fluency and comprehension at home by reading with their children regularly, discussing the text, and asking open-ended questions to encourage deeper understanding. Additionally, providing a variety of reading materials and creating a reading-friendly environment can foster fluency and comprehension.

How does vocabulary knowledge affect fluency and comprehension?

Vocabulary knowledge relates closely to fluency and comprehension. A robust vocabulary enables readers to understand the meaning of words in context, which aids comprehension. It also helps with fluency by allowing readers to recognize and process words more quickly. Expanding vocabulary through reading and exposure to new words enhances overall reading skills.

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