As a child, reading was not my thing. I knew it was “good for me” and I wanted to be a good student (yes, I have always been a goodie-two-shoes), but it was hard for me. It was not until I was in college that I was finally tested and it turned out my hearing was not that great. This was a reading problem for me because “reading begins not with our eyes but with our ears, as we hear and catalog speech sounds” (Turner, 2015). Therefore when I read, I had trouble hearing the right words in my head so I had a hard time understanding the words I was reading.
Combine that with my ADHD and my tendency to skip words, well, my reading was terrible.
But it was too late – learning that my hearing was bad and that I had ADHD (a discovery made in high school) did not do me any good. I had already figured out a way around any (reading) setbacks they created. I read out loud to myself. I cannot remember when I started, but I do remember my mom walking in on me as I sat on my bed reading my 7th grade history textbook aloud. She was concerned – reading out loud takes so much more time.
But reading aloud also helped me understand what I was reading, so it was worth the extra time.
When I read out loud, I immediately notice if a sentence I read does not make sense. Perhaps I read a “d” as a “b” or I skipped a “not”, either way, the sentence is weird and I know to re-read that sentence even slower because something was wrong. Those mistakes are harder to find when I read silently.
When I read out loud, I go for accuracy and understanding, not speed. (This is very different from the reading I did aloud in class, when I most certainly was going for speed and never understood or remembered what I read.) I am reading just to myself, word by word to make sure each word makes sense in my sentence.
I still do this (along with underlining, highlighting, and taking notes in the margins, which is why I prefer paper books to e-books). I do this every time I edit a blog post, read something important, or read something I am having trouble understanding.
So, if your child is having difficulty reaching her school’s reading goals this summer, suggest that she read out loud, perhaps to her stuffed animals, who do not care if it is slow going.
It is worth a shot!
Turner, C. (2015). The test that can look into a child’s (reading) future. NPR:Ed.