Reading Made Simple

Recently, I began the journey of revising my first book, You Have to Read This One: Raising a Contagious Reader. It is the backbone of my workshop Raising a Contagious Reader and I have missed offering that book as a resource! It is packed will all the things I felt I needed on the path to raising a reader and finding great literature for my children and could not find anywhere else. 

It is also full of ideas and methods I wish would have been used to teach me, a reluctant, delayed reader, as a child.

The revisions are still a ways from being reprinted. In the interim, I will post a few ways to make language arts fun and easy.  

Reread the Story

Sounds like a no-brainer, reread the story? Yes, in fact, if you are a parent you have already likely met this frequent request. 

But did you know it will also nurture a future writer?

"Read it to me again!" 

A favorite story often brings this joy-filled request. Together the story is reread, anticipating favorite repetitive phrases or mimicking a main character. Hearing a story multiple times, the child comes to understand rising action, climax, and falling action in a foundational manner. Not only does rereading a story help a child understand foreshadowing and predictions, but it nurtures future writing efforts by reinforcing (and eventually mimicking the use of) simple plots, from the multitude of books read over and over. It is the familiar stories children will draw from as they begin their writing adventures.

Some of our favorite "read this to me again" stories are:

Retell the Story

Want to build comprehension and recall?

Retelling a story or a sequence of events builds comprehension and expressive vocabulary. Retelling is the review of characters met and events lived. Open-ended questions encourage a child to recall, to remember, to think. In the process comprehension is built. A much more productive way to build comprehension than answering a plethora of questions on a work page.

Predictable plots and repetitive phrases or wording invite the child to "read" along or retell later. Books with predictable plots include The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, or In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming. 

Incorporating puppets offers another means by which to retell a story, fostering and encouraging the child to add to the story from his or her imagination and creativity. Imagination invites innovation, soft skills--life skills--needed for future learning and employment. 

Some of our favorite "retells" are:


The ability to listen, the process and store information is a key language arts component. Often, in today's visual society, auditory training is neglected. Though I do purpose to read aloud to our children, audio books, story recordings (our favorites are Jim Weiss), and online resources like the audio below are some of our favorites, especially in the afternoons when children and I are ready for another learning option. Our goal is 45 minutes of read aloud and an additional 45 minutes of additional listening from either story recordings or audio text. 

Audio input is one of those elements of reading which could have been helpful to me as a struggling reader.

For more thoughts on how reading aloud fosters reading comprehension, I offer this blog post. 

Encourage Independent Reading

Reading independently is another important skill. As a mom, I remind myself that one way I encourage independent reading by providing engaging books in the home--home library or borrowed from the public library. I also remind myself to listen when a reader comes to my side with the "You know what I read?" or "I can't believe this happened!" response. Those phrases are really saying, "Engage with me about my book!" The benefits of conversation and dialogue are topics for another blog post.  

Independent reads must be age appropriate and of interest. Some of the favorites have been:

Early Elementary

Middle to Late Elementary

Read with Purpose

Where there is purpose there will be effort. Intrinsic motivation, internal motivations and desires, are some of the greatest catalysts to purpose, hence the energy behind effort. 

I was a reluctant, delayed reader. However, I LOVED gymnastics. Though reading was laborious, tedious and down right frustrating, I wanted to know about the lives of famous gymnasts. My desire to know about gymnastics fueled my desire to read. The more I read, the more fluent I became. A strength bolstered a weakness.

Some of the books my children have read with and for a purpose--something they wanted to learn: 


Reading really doesn't have to be complicated, though it will take time. However, the time put forth matters. For me personally, it was a game changer. I became a reader when many said I wouldn't ever become fluent. 

The time and effort you put forward matters.