Tutoring focuses explicitly on reading but for many who work with children, reading is a shared experience without a focus on instruction. Readers can share the benefits of reading and help children learn about the potential joy of books and reading. Readers can also help kids make connections between events in a book or text and other parts of their lives. These shared experiences around reading help children build confidence as readers and see themselves as more capable readers (self-efficacy).

Tips for Readers

Here are some suggestions for readers who are not engaged in tutoring. However, these suggestions also hold for tutoring situations:

  • Let the child hold the book and turn the pages
  • Let the child set the pace
  • Take time to look and talk—look at the pictures and talk about the book
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Talk about their ideas and check your predictions from the picture walk
  • Ask, “What did you like?”
  • Talk about other good books and reading

Other Ways to Share Reading

Once you've read a book or two, consider these ideas for discussion or follow up:

  • Talk about a favorite book you’ve read or grew up reading
  • Share a good story about reading in your life
  • Be honest and be authentic…don’t make it up!!!
  • Grab another book and read

Do's and Don'ts of Reading Together

You’ve found a good book and now it’s time to read.

  • Start with a book walk, picture talk
  • Make some predictions
  • Start reading
    • Have the child read aloud to you. Resist interrupting the child even if they make mistakes or struggle. It's hard to resist jumping in to help but frequent corrections can do more harm than good. Let the child come to a logical stopping place like the end of a sentence or paragraph. Then, if they struggled, ask them to go back and reread or talk about the book and keep going. If you do decide to help with some errors, pick ONE or TWO things that matter like a couple of key words. DON'T try to fix it all.
    • You read aloud to the child. This is a great way to model and share reading. You don't have to act it out but try to read with some emotion and energy. And, don't just read, talk about the book as you go. Read a little, talk a little with the child. Ask questions. Also, DON'T go too fast. Take time to listen and let the child talk.
    • Take turns reading. Partner reading is a great way to share and model the reading all at once. Use the Say Something partner reading strategy in which you read a little and say something and then the child reads a little and says something. You can make predictions, comments, connections, ask questions or clarify. Echo reading is another great partner reading strategy in which the adult or more capable partner reads a sentence, paragraph, or page and then asks the child to read it immediately after. This helps a struggling reader hear the text before he or she reads it.

Questions to Ask a Reader

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say or ask when a child is reading. If it's not a good idea to correct a struggling reader too often then how can you help? Here are two great questions to ask as you work with a reader:

  • Does that make sense? The point of reading is to comprehend. When a child makes mistakes in reading, we can and should ask them, does that make sense? This question fosters a conversation about comprehension and open the door to helping a child do something when they struggle with understanding.
  • What can you do? It doesn’t help a child grow as a reader when we fix all the problems. Help kids develop skills to solve their own struggles. Readers can look at pictures, make guesses about words or find a part of a word they do know.