Read Together

NCTE Guidline
A guideline found to be consistent with NCTE positions on educational issues

Read Together: Parents and Educators Working Together for Literacy
The position of the National Council of Teachers of English on the importance of parents and educators working together for literacy.

Developing Young Readers

Learning to read doesn't happen magically. Parents and teachers play important roles in developing young readers. Supporting a child is best accomplished when parents and teachers share common methods and basic understandings about the reading process. This brochure describes ways you can help your child as a reader. As you work together, celebrate your child's efforts and successes--just as you did when your child learned to walk and talk.

Three Ways to Read Aloud

  1. Child reads to parent.
    Your child gains confidence in reading ability. Emphasize your child's positive achievements. Have your child reread the same material to develop more confident reading ability.

  2. Parent reads to child.
    Read aloud to your child to build positive attitudes toward books, to develop an understanding of written language, and to enjoy the sound of spoken language. You may choose books above your child's reading ability. Be sure the books will interest your child. You may even let your child choose the books.

  3. Child and parent read together.
    Take turns reading paragraphs or pages in a challenging or long book. Always be positive and lighthearted. Have fun sharing the reading material and your time together! Discontinue the reading if the reading experience becomes tense.

While you read the book . . .

  • allow your child to spontaneously comment on events and characters in the story.
  • discuss the predictions, opinions, thoughts, ideas, connections, and questions you and your child may have.

Encourage your child to spontaneously comment on events and characters in the story. Explore comments or connections that might not yet make sense; all learners' responses are purposeful and show their attempts to make the reading meaningful.

Discuss the predictions, opinions, thoughts, ideas, connections, and questions you and your child may have. We know that readers understand books differently, depending on their experiences. Differing ideas add value to conversations about stories.

These are natural and meaningful ways to know if your child is understanding the story.

How Can I Help My Child Learn to Read?

Research findings in early literacy have shown that the most important factors enabling children to become readers are:

  • exposure to books and literature from infancy
  • awareness of print around them (cereal boxes, store signs, freeway signs, etc.)
  • awareness of letters, words, labels, and letter sounds in real-life contexts
  • 10-30 minutes of daily reading aloud
  • regular visits to the public library
  • accessible books that interest children
  • time to enjoy books by themselves
  • parents/adults who read and value reading
  • rich and varied experiences (visits to the zoo, aquarium, museums, fairs, etc.).

Most importantly, daily support from parents and adults significantly increases success in reading.

What Should I Do When My Child Gets Stuck?

  • Ask the child, "what would make sense here?"
  • Have the child look at the pictures to see if they give any clues.
  • Skip the word or phrase and come back to it later.
  • Ask the child, "What word would make sense and begins with that letter?"
  • Have the child look at the word and say it slowly as you run your finger under it.
  • Ask the child, "Do you see a part of the word that you know?"
  • Telling the word to the child is okay at times.

Emergent Readers

Child is learning about print and is becoming aware that print tells a story or gives information. Child uses pictures to retell what is in a book.

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin
  • Count and See by Tana Hoban
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Alan Ahlberg
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
  • "More, More, More" Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
  • My First Book of Songs by Jane L. Manning
  • My Aunt Came Back by Pat Cummings
  • No, No, Jo! by Kate H. McMullan
  • On Mothers Lap by Ann Herbert Scott
  • Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins
  • Sweet Baby Coming by Eloise Greenfield
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

"Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way."

~Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children

Early Readers

Child begins to use knowledge of letter/sound relationships and is developing a sight vocabulary of high frequency words (a, and, the, etc.). Child uses print and pictures to read a story and begins to point to actual words being read.

  • Bony Legs by Joanna Cole
  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  • Daddy Play with Me by Sigeo Watanabe
  • Fox in Love by Jim Marshall
  • Go, Dog. Go! by Philip D. Eastman
  • I Like Books by Anthony Browne
  • It Looks Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw
  • Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer
  • Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joose
  • Messy Bessy by Patricia McKissack
  • Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
  • New Cat by Yangsook Choi
  • On Mother's Lap by Ann Herbert Scott
  • Que Sorpresa de CumpleaƱos! by Loretta Lopez
  • Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka
  • Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
  • Swimmy by Leo Leonni
  • The Trees of Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
  • The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella by Penny Pollock
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

"You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold, richer than I you can never be-I had a Mother who read to me."

~"The Reading Mother," by Strickland Gillilan, from Best Loved Poems of the People

Fluent Readers

Child is able to read independently and reads fluently for meaning. Sentence structure is varied and child need not rely on repetition or patterned sentences.

  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parrish
  • Borrequita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
  • The Drinking Gourd by F. N. Monjo
  • Finding the Titanic by Robert Ballard
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
  • Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  • A Picture Book of Rosa Parks by Davis Adler
  • Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron
  • Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
  • Whales by Seymour Simon

Great Read-Alouds

Infants, toddlers, and beginning readers will have a wonderful time listening to these favorite stories read to them by parents.

  • Abuela by Arthur Dorros
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Dancing Feet by Charlotte Ageli
  • A Day's Work by Eve Bunting
  • Dr. DeSoto by William Steig
  • Flossie and the Fox by Pat McKissack
  • Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Grandmother's Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain
  • Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
  • The Island of the Skog by Stephen Kellogg
  • Koala Lou by Mem Fox
  • Minty, the Story of Young Harriett Tubman by Alan Schroeder

Signs of Reading Development

  • Holds a book right-side up
  • Turns pages from right to left
  • Interprets pictures and makes up a story using pictures to read
  • Retells a story in sequence
  • Mimics and points to print but without voice and word matching
  • Memorizes stories
  • Begins to gain knowledge of letters and sounds and letter/sound relationships
  • Begins to recognize names, words on cereal boxes, labels on toys, names of stores and restaurants
  • Finger points to read single words
  • Asks questions about what a word is
  • Begins to identify common, high frequency words (a, and, the, it, is, will, go, to, etc.)
  • Attends to beginning consonant sounds
  • Attends to ending consonant sounds
  • Uses picture cues to read unknown words
  • Self-corrects when something doesn't make sense or doesn't sound right
  • Develops fluency with practice

Sponsored by the Reading Commission

Mary H. Maguire, Director
Bess I. Altwerger
Evelyn Hanssen
Debra Jacobson
Kristina Jilbert
Carmen I. Mercado
Carol Porter
Ruth J. Saez-Vega
Joann Wong-Kam
Vicki Zack with Anna Sumida