The Reading House is a collection of fun learning experiences, routines, and games that nurture literacy development in children from birth through the elementary school years.
Who should use The Reading House?
The Reading House was written for parents who want to be involved in, and positively contribute to, their child’s academic development. Parents of babies and toddlers can use the foundational activities with their children to set the stage for future language development. Parents of preschoolers and kindergarten students can have fun loving literature and playing the alphabet games together. Elementary-aged children can participate in routines and experiences with their parents as they learn reading strategies, vocabulary, and language arts lessons. Lastly, parents of children who thirst for additional challenges can sink their teeth into the open-ended comprehension and story extension activities.
An added bonus is that many of The Reading House lessons can be used in the classroom or by educators who tutor individual students or small groups. I’ve had teachers and tutors give these activities to their students as “reading homework” instead of just telling them to read at home.
What types of learners will benefit from using The Reading House activities, routines, and games?
From my experiences as an elementary teacher, reading tutor, and parent, I’ve found that there are three general reading categories into which kids fit. Reading House activities, routines, and games are adaptable to all of these reading types.
The first is the classic reader. A classic reader is one to whom the reading process comes easily and who finds reading to be a pleasurable activity. The classic reader’s appetite for books can be insatiable and they will ask to go to the library, bookstore, or electronic reader website very often! Another type of reader is the uninspired reader. Children who are uninspired can read well enough, but think of it as a chore. If given a choice, this type would never choose to read without it being a requirement. The challenged reader is the third reading type. Challenged readers find learning to read an overwhelming and difficult process. They struggle with comprehension and haven’t yet mastered the use of reading strategies. Without educational intervention, this group of children loses their self-confidence as learners and they begin to struggle in other academic areas.
How did The Reading House come about?
I began creating my own instructional reading activities when I taught second grade and basic skills groups within the public school system. The teacher lessons in the basal reader programs did not excite my students or me. So, I used interesting trade and chapter books and followed the school’s reading curriculum to craft reading strategy lessons. The very diverse group of readers in my classes forced me to make the activities adaptable to those who were struggling to read, as well as to the children who needed advanced challenges.
When I stayed home to raise my family, I tutored children who were struggling with the task of learning to read. The parents came to me in desperation because their child’s academic self-esteem was deteriorating. As a fellow parent, I understood at the deepest level how much it hurts to watch your child give up because something is too difficult, and not know how to help. With minor modifications, the games and activities I used in my classrooms worked equally well with students in one-on-one tutoring sessions. As the children’s confidence became stronger, the parents wanted more and asked what they could do at home to strengthen and reinforce what I was teaching. I realized there was a need to provide educational experiences to parents who wanted to be actively involved in their child’s learning. Fun reading games took the pressure off of having to read and our tutor-parent partnership led to faster results. It’s a testament to the fact that complimentary learning experiences, in a formal teaching environment and at home, significantly supports the academic success of children.
Due to the positive results, these same parents encouraged me to document this program for other parents who were possibly experiencing similar struggles or who were interested in having a hand in their child’s learning success. The importance of promoting reading at home was so evident and powerful to us, and that was how the Reading House was built.
What is a “literary experience”?
The foundational, unique premise of The Reading House is the use of the literary experience. Literary experiences are instructional reading moments, games, routines, or lessons that occur within the context of everyday life. Sometimes these activities are planned and sometimes they aren’t. The defining aspect of literary experiences, though, is that they happen naturally throughout the course of a learner’s day.
Reading and language events occur almost every moment of every day. It doesn’t make sense to isolate language learning as a once-a-day activity. Listening and communicating with others; taking meaning from text and forming new ideas; writing about unique ideas in a clear and direct manner are all methods for children to grow into progressive thinkers. The most natural way to effectively teach these skills is to introduce them within a child’s home and school environment as life is happening. The Reading House activities will show you how to do just that.
What else makes The Reading House unique or different from other reading systems?
Parents have said that they love The Reading House activities because they are easily assimilated into their daily habits, the kids have fun doing them, and because they are based upon tried-and-true educational premises, such as:
- Patterning the Classic Reader – emulating the reading behaviors of independent readers through games, routines, and strategies
- Loving Books – devoting significant attention to drumming up excitement and enthusiasm about reading quality children’s literature
- Starting Early - engaging infants, babies and toddlers in songs and conversations, mimicking their utterances, and providing sensory experiences to lay the foundation for language development
- Involving the Learner – providing cooperative activities, movement, and interaction while reading
- Balancing Traditional and Progressive Methods – pairing traditional teaching methods with more progressive approaches for a balanced program
- Adapting to Different Learning Styles – varying teaching methods so that our kinesthetic, visual, aural, and tactile learners all have an equal chance of success
Arming parents with this educational know-how gives them more traction to truly make a difference in their child’s reading success.
Can you explain The Reading House illustration?
The plan, or in this case the blueprint of the Reading House, gives a great visual of the ordering and interdependence of skill sets that must be addressed when helping children learn to read. We can lay the foundation for language acquisition and development by reading with our babies, loving the books that decorate our homes, and playing games with letters and words. We can then assist our children in becoming independent readers through daily experiences with vocabulary, strategies, language arts, and reading routines. And lastly, we now have comprehension and story extension activities to truly challenge those learners to whom reading has come easily.
The house concept is deliberate in design to emphasize that the learning environment at home is just as important in helping children become academically successful as the learning environment at school. Our homes are part of our communities and all of the adults in children’s lives play the role of teacher at one point or another. The cooperation between home and school is instrumental in lifting children to their utmost potential as learners.