Well, hopefully you hear just one and it is while you are reading. While we read as adults, we hear ourselves reading aloud, inside of our heads. This is something I never really thought about or talked about before it came up in a graduate class last year. It is important to let young readers know that they should hear themselves read in their head as they read silently. As they get older and do more silent reading, they will be using their inner reading voice more and more. If they are not hearing this voice while they are reading silently they are falling prey to a simply termed phenomena called “fake reading”.
Young readers should be doing everything that good readers do with their inner reading voice as they read silently. These include stopping to re-read portions if they lose meaning. They would also use this voice to sound words out, to ask questions, make predictions and make connections. Being aware of their inner reading voice encourages children to use their meta-cognitive skills. This is a fancy way of saying they are aware of what is going on in their head as they read and learn.
Recently I have come across an interesting by product of reading instruction in our schools and it has given me some new perspectives. This year I have given a reading assessment to about 50 middle school students over the past couple months. This involves students reading aloud a passage and then I ask about ten comprehension questions about the text. All the while I am making note of reading behaviors and how successful they are with the text. I noticed something striking. The vast majority did not look back to the text at all, in spite of the fact I told them before they started to read that the text would remain in front of them and they could use it all they wanted to. Sometimes they were successful not looking back. Often times they were not. After the assessment was over I would sometimes re-ask a question they missed and direct them to look back to the text to help them and usually they were able to then give an acceptable response to the question.
This lack of text use tells me they don’t see the text as a place to go back and dig or even meander. In and out. Done. I can almost see it in their eyes, “Why on earth would one venture back into that maze of words?” These are just guesses on my part and the middle school mind is somewhat of a mystery to us all, but I am certain that we could do a better job teaching reading in our school. As an educator, standardized testing lingers in the recesses of my mind ALWAYS. However, that shouldn’t get in my way of teaching students that reading is not a race. Much like life, it is all about the journey!
One of my absolute favorite authors on this topic is Kelly Gallagher. I am constantly dropping his name and sharing his resources in my place of work. One inspiring book he wrote a few years back is called Reading Deeply, which kind of says it all. Chris Tovani is another educator who has written a number of books on literacy instruction and uses many real life examples throughout her work. These authors are easy to read, practical and immensely logical on this topic.
"Fur and Feathers" - Sylvan Dell Publishing on BeThereBedtimeStories.com
So what’s a PARENT to do about this reading race? I think that if we make reading a regular, relaxing, and enjoyable event kids won’t see reading so much as a race to get through it but a journey to remember. I read to my girls most nights. I myself am going to make a point to not just use the single speed and direction model of reading (steady and forward), but to stop from time to time to ponder something out loud and even go back to check out the text we have already read to support my ponderings. While I usually try to make the reading fun, I don’t think I have lingered on the words enough. So what if we don’t get through even one chapter. I think kids like to talk about what is going on in the story as much as reading about it. I am going to work harder on making each journey one that they will not soon forget.
Fix-up strategies are used during reading. When you begin to lose understanding of what you are reading, you do certain things to make sure that you understand before you continue reading.
Some fix-up strategies are:
Re-reading portions of text
Sounding out words that are confusing
One of the easiest and powerful things you can do while you are reading to your child is to think aloud while you are working through a fix-up strategy. You are simply modeling what it means to be a reader and show there are no secrets when it comes to reading. You are unlocking the mystery behind reading for your child and this will make it more accessible for them. One example of a fix-up strategy might be:
You have been reading a story aloud and you begin to become confused as to who is speaking. You stop reading and go back to where the dialogue begins to re-read. You might say something like this: “Wait a minute, I am confused here about who is saying what. I am going to go back and re-read so I can get it straight.”
It is important to let our children know that they will be using these strategies even as adult readers. Simply put, let them in on what is going on inside of our brains in order to grow theirs!