Evolving Fluent Readers!
“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy
And once you start nurturing your child into a reader, you open up a whole new world for them.
We have already discussed the importance and ways to explore reading with early readers. After they start reading early, they need to be gradually groomed into fluent readers. Let us first understand what does fluency refers to.
What is fluency?
Fluency is effectively reading a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. It is important because it creates a connection between word recognition and comprehension.
Fluency has been determined as an important aspect of reading. Several years of research indicate that fluency is one of the critical building blocks of reading because fluency development is directly related to comprehension.
Fluency is highly correlated with reading comprehension, so when a child starts reading fluently, he/she is likely to comprehend better what he or she is reading.
Fluent readers can recognize words automatically. They do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, so they focus more on what the text means. They can recognize words and comprehend them simultaneously.
On the other hand, readers who are not fluent in reading go slowly, word by word. They have to focus their attention on figuring out the words, hence little attention goes for understanding the meaning of the text.
How to nurture fluency?
1. Choose books based on their interests: It is always advisable to choose books from genres or authors which they like or would love to explore. Get into a conversation with them to find out what interests them.
2. Try Tongue twisters: Tongue twisters are a great way to impart fluency. They help in pronunciation and are fun at the same time. It helps them to get a good grasp on words and speed with the correct phonic sounds.
Take this one for example:
Swan swam over the sea
Swim, swan, swim!
Swan swan back again.
Well swum, swan!
3. Let them join book clubs: Book clubs, whether physical or virtual are a great way to inculcate the habit of reading and also increase interaction about books. Here, kids get an environment to talk about books, express their views and listen to others, which in turn helps to widen their outlook and get inspired as well.
4. Plan rewards for completing books: Actions are effectively completed if there is a certain reward attached to them. So, why not making reading habits a bit more exciting for your kid? Give them a reward every time they complete a book, maybe another book they have been yearning to read, or fun family reading session, or anything that makes them happy.
5. Read with them: A new study has found that young children whose parents read them five books a day go to kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to. So, read along with them as much as possible. And, READ ALOUD. Because reading aloud builds comprehension which is an essential part of fluency.
What can you start with?
- Biographies- Famous biographies for kids like Eleanor by Barbara Cooney, How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull, Boys of Steel- The Creators of Superman by Marc Nobleman, and many others can be a real treat for regular and fluent readers.
- Graphic novels- Wonderful graphic novels like Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (8 yrs+), Secret Coders by Gene Yang (8 yrs+), Franklin Richards by Chris Eliopoulis (6 yrs+), Bird & Squirrel on Fire by James Burks (7 yrs+), and others can really turn your kid into a book addict.
- Books adapted into movies like the Harry Potter series or The Chronicles of Narnia help to keep them glued to the book as well as enjoy the movie. Even cartoon series like The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, or others help to nurture imagination along with reading.
- Comic Strips: Archies, Calvin and Hobbes, Astreix, Tintin, or other comic series help in capturing their attention and also garner curiosity of reading the next one.
- Classics: Series like The Famous Five by Enid Blyton or other classics like Little Women or Around The World in 80 Days or Treasure Island are wonderful reads for early fluent readers.
- Books from Indian authors like Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Sudha Murthy which are targeted for a young audience with elements that they can relate to are a wonderful resource that you can use. There are amazing series from these authors according to age groups that fluent readers would love to explore.
However, you have to careful, not to confuse fluency with speed. Reading fast necessarily doesn’t mean being fluent. There are various ways and assessments to determine fluency level, but first, you need to groom your child and once they are confident, you can make them take some tests.
According to Luigi Girolametto, professor emeritus of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto, children who have more conversations prior to two have superior language skills at 13. It has been seen that back-and-forth conversations with young kids aid in brain development.
So, start early, read and talk to your child, and spend time to help them evolve into fluent readers.