Parents play key role in developing kids' reading skills

Sylvan Learning’s Morgan Griffith shows off a copy of “The Lorax” during last year’s Dr. Seuss Day celebration at Enterprise Elementary School in Federal Way. - Courtesy photo
Sylvan Learning’s Morgan Griffith shows off a copy of “The Lorax” during last year’s Dr. Seuss Day celebration at Enterprise Elementary School in Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Throughout our lives, we read directions or instructions to perform a task, we read newspapers, magazines and other publications to be informed, and we read stories, poetry, plays and other enjoyable materials for the literary experience.

If you had not developed solid reading skills as a child, you may have difficulty completing job-related tasks or reading for enjoyment as an adult.

As students in grades four through eight become more sophisticated readers, their reading behaviors become more analytical and their thinking more abstract.

Children at this level dissect words and word parts for meaning and continue to expand their vocabularies. They read for enjoyment in areas of interest and pay particular attention to reading series books.

By engaging children in the world of reading, parents can help their children enjoy reading and become more proficient readers. Sylvan Learning recommends that parents spend at least one hour per week — 10 to 15 minutes a day — doing a reading activity with their children.

To help parents nurture their children’s reading behaviors, the staff at your local Federal Way Sylvan offers these tips and ideas for reading at home with children in grades four through eight:

• Help your child with the latest experiment in her science book. Talk through each step and discuss next steps.

• Pick a different country each week, and challenge him to learn a bit more about that country by visiting the library or researching it online.

• Research and select books about your child’s interests, such as a sport or hobby.

• Make a trip to the library a weekly “date” with your child.

• Read the newspaper with your child. Elicit her opinion about current events.

• Encourage your child to read series books such as “Harry Potter,” “Lemony Snicket,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Little House on the Prairie,” etc.

• Create a family book club where you and your child read the same book and discuss it.

• Help your child find a favorite author. Have him create alternate stories for the author’s repetitive characters.

• Read your child’s favorite books.

Sylvan Learning’s recommended reading list

Elementary school

Kindergarten: “A Play’s the Thing” by Aliki

Grade 1: “Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish

Grade 2: “Anansi the Spider” by Gerald McDermott

Grade 3: “The Adventures of Stuart Little” by Daphne Skinner

Grade 4: “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson” by Bette Bao Lord

Grade 5: “Annie and the Old One” by Miska Miles

Middle school

Grade 6: “You Be the Jury” series by Marvin Miller

Grade 7: “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

Grade 8: “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne

High school

Grade 9: “White Fang” by Jack London

Grade 10: “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas

Grade 11: “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom

Grade 12: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway

Book Adventure

The Internet can also provide many opportunities for children of all ages who are looking for new materials to read. Book Adventure is a free, Sylvan-created interactive reading motivation program that can be found online at Parents can help children choose a book from more than 7,500 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem accumulated points for small prizes. Book Adventure also offers teacher and parent resources and tips to help children develop a lifelong love of reading.

For additional tips on instilling the joy of reading and making learning a fun family endeavor, call (253) 838-0507 or visit


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