Raising Readers Monday: Guest Expert Paulla Howes

Today I’m thrilled to introduce the first in a series of guest blogs on Raising Readers.  In the coming months, you’ll see blogs from such great minds as:

If you are or know of another blogger interested in doing a guest post for Raising Readers Monday, please comment below or email me directly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s guest blogger is my very own amazing mother-in-law, Paulla Howes.  Paulla has a BA in elementary education and a MS (plus 20 extra course hours!) in teaching reading outside the classroom.  She is a trained Reading Recovery teacher and spent over 30 years helping public school children – as well as her own children and grandchildren – learn to love reading.  I’d like to say that her practical knowledge and personal experience in helping kids learn to read is unrivaled.

In today’s post, Paulla is passing on essential information on an important stage in the life of a young reader: making that transition from easy-readers to chapter books.

Generally speaking, children may be ready to transition into chapter books around age 7 or 8, although the age is as individual as the child.  Helping children transition into chapter books usually starts in the classroom in school, but there are certainly things you can do as a parent to help.

Valuing reading and making it a priority in your home is very important. You have some stiff competition coming from the gaming industry. As an educator and a parent, I believe that time on gaming systems should be regulated or earned (perhaps 15 minutes of video games for 15 minutes of reading aloud?) Read to your child, with your child, and in front of your child and show that you value reading as much or more than TV and games!

Shared reading should be a big part of the transition. Your child reads a page and you read a page.  Don’t forget to periodically stop and ask what your child thinks will happen next and why. It is also very powerful for the adult to tell what they think will happen next and why. This gives your child a different perspective and models for them how adults process information.

Initially, you are looking for books that still have some pictures and larger print.  There will be a reasonable amount of white space between lines and words. The Frog and Toad  and Henry and Mudge series would be  good examples of this level.  Any bookstore or library will be able to help you find these. The book order forms your child brings home from school will also have some good choices.  Online, try Scholastic and Parent&Child Magazine’s information on early chapter books here.

It make take some time to find books that motivate your child to read.  Parents need to recognize that children read for different reasons – just as adults do. Many read for pleasure while others read for information about whatever topic interests them.  Not all people will read for pleasure;  do not worry if your child isn’t drawn to Frog and Toad.  What you want is for them to be effective when they do read.  Listen to what your kids are passionate about and want to know more about. Even the most reluctant reader will become excited about books that contain information about things they love!

Effective reading does not mean that every word is perfect!

At this stage in reading, do not insist on going back to correct mistakes unless the reader is confused because they have lost meaning: MEANING is what reading  is all about.

Your next transition would be to books such as the Magic Treehouse books. These “next step” books will have more print, some pictures and the kind of cliffhangers children enjoy.  Choose Your Own Adventure stories (you remember those!) are also good books at this stage because children are able to make several different stories depending the pages they choose to follow.  The American Girl franchise has recently introduced a line of choose-your-own-adventure stories, as well, using the name Innerstar University.

A final word:  under no circumstances be angry or impatient with your child.  While they transition (as at so many other times) the person they want to please most is you.   End your reading with affirmation about something you thought they did really well!  And remember, even as children are learning to read for themselves, they still love being read to.  Continue to read picture books, old favorites, and new books with more mature topics TO your child as they transition to independent reading.

Happy reading, from Paulla Howes and Kateywrites!

A big thank you to Paulla for lending us her expertise!  If you have specific questions, please put them in the comments section and we’ll make sure that you get the expert answer.


6 thoughts on “Raising Readers Monday: Guest Expert Paulla Howes

  1. Thanks for the advice. My daughter is just transitioning into chapter books, but at this point, she likes to check them out and have them more than actually reading them. But she does love the Junie B Jones series and she reads those (although I don’t love them!). I have been trying to get her to move to Magic Treehouse, but I think she isn’t interested, so I should drop it! Sigh.


    • Thank you for this post! My son is at this stage at well. He really enjoyed the Henry and Mudge series and Frog and Toad. I would like to transition him to Magic Tree House, but he’s still overwhelmed by seeing a lot of print on the page (even if he can read it). I appreciated your advice about taking turns reading. I’d forgotten how I used to do that with my older son.


      • Another trick I like to use (which Paulla taught me!) is to use a ruler or piece of card stock under the line the child is reading. It blocks off the rest of the words from view and decreases the “intimidation factor” of the page. Just a line at a time is no problem – right? Happy reading!


  2. Pingback: Raising Readers Monday: Find the Right Reads | kateywrites

  3. Pingback: #RaisingReaders Monday: Using e-readers with newly independent readers | kateywrites

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