Raising Confident Readers: How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write From Baby to Age 7 by Dr. J. Richard Gentry is a guidebook for parents to use to create useful early learning opportunities in their own home. I found this book at my local library. It was just sitting there on the shelf saying, “You know you want me.” It was right! As a reading specialist and early literacy blogger, this book was right up my alley. What impressed me, however, was that the book was written for parents. Parents who don’t have early literacy training yet want to help their children develop literacy skills.
I found Raising Confident Readers to be research-based and well organized. I have been influenced by Dr. Gentry’s prior work, mostly his work on spelling. According to his website he has over 30 years in the field of early literacy. His work has been influenced by the research of Maria Montessori and Marie Clay. (I was impressed at one point when he referred to her as “The great… Marie Clay.” love that!) He employs brain based techniques based on the acronym READ, Repetition, Enthusiasm, Attention, and Drawing. (Yes, Drawing, much of his book on raising readers actually references early drawing activities.)
After a brief overview of the research behind his work, he categorizes emergent/beginning readers and writers into five phases. He then explains how to determine your child’s phase and what to do with your child in that phase to lift them into the next phase. Within each phase he offers activities in the areas of Reading, Drawing and Writing, and Sounds and Spelling. Reading includes “great books” suggestions for each level.
Some of the activities include
Phase 0: (This is where Logan is. He can not yet write his name and uses scribbles and not letters to “write”.)
Labeling and Reading the room, finger painting, name writing, bookmaking, rhymes, repetition, and clapping syllables.
Phase 1:finger point reading, labeling and reading the room, kid writing, bookmaking, my name game, alphabet books.
Phase 2: Reading For, With, and By your child, sight word practices, kid writing, hand spelling, things to do with magnetic letters and tiles.
Phase 3: Reading For, With, and By your child, figuring out unknown words, finger point reading, story retelling, sight word practice, kid writing, finger spelling, word families, making words and blending sounds.
Phase 4: Reading with your child, figuring out unknown words, word games and word sorting, kid writing, writing with conventional spelling, using spelling patterns and spelling analogies.
Truly, the ONLY bad thing I can say about this book, is that I wanted to write this book someday. You know, some day after I acquire years of reading and research and experience. Fortunately, Dr. Gentry’s book might be some what out of date by then. LOL.
I’m sure you’ll be seeing ways that we have implemented these activities and how they are working for us soon!