Five ways to be a reading hero


By Vicki Whiting/Kid Scoop News

The literacy statistics for Sonoma children are downright scary. Less than 50 percent of our third graders are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

The impacts of this literacy crisis are staggering. Both the community and the individuals face upstream challenges of poor health, poverty and crime.

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District is addressing this issue head-on with proven programs such as Schools of Hope, the Summer Reading Academy and expanding preschool programs so all students are ready for kindergarten.

A key determiner of a child’s success as a reader is the amount of time he or she actually spends reading. Like any skill, reading takes practice. The more practice – the better the reading.

Kid Scoop News is proud to be a part of this effort by providing our schools with a high-interest, informational reading publication that engages the most reluctant reader and generates increased daily reading just for the fun of it.

As a parent, a grandparent, a mentor or a friend, you can play a part in fostering a love of reading in the children of Sonoma Valley. If we are a community of readers, children will take it on as a part of the air they breathe.

Here are five tips for how everyone can be a reading hero.

1. Get caught reading. Take a book with you and go to a park or a restaurant and read it in front of people. If you have a child in your life, both of you go on a reading outing. Read in the shade of a tree, on a park bench or while sipping lemonade at a local eatery. At home, get caught reading the newspaper, books or magazines just for the fun of it. Share with your child how much you are enjoying what you are reading, or what you have learned.

2. Take a field trip. Take a field trip with a child. It doesn’t have to cost money. In Sonoma you can visit the library and pick out a book together, watch birds in the Plaza, take a walk along side a vineyard and look for wildlife. Check out the art in the stores around the Plaza. Read labels and discuss where things come from. This builds vocabulary that will give your child a boost when it comes time to reading a school assignment.

3. Set a goal. Setting a goal with a reward at the end motivates anyone. Have the entire family take part in the reading goal – not just the kids. Decide on a reasonable target of reading minutes that you can accomplish together as a family in two to three weeks. Chart your progress, and plan a celebration that everyone can “read towards.”

4. Dive into non-fiction. Non-fiction reading is emphasized in the new Common Core State Standards. Find books, magazine articles, etc. on topics that interest your child, whether it is birds, cars, video games or fashion. Make the reading interactive. Read the books together, discuss, come up with questions and work together to find the answers and complete any experiments or investigations the materials suggest. Do them together.

5. Read aloud every day. For some kids, reading by themselves feels lonely. Reading together gives a child the security in knowing they have the reading help they need and the companionship they desire. Have fun reading aloud together. Use silly voices and ask your child questions about the text. Make the reading suspenseful by reading one story over the course of a few days (or nights).