Emergent Readers: Profile, Tips, More

PAWS for Reading is a program that the Tulsa City-County Library offers that gives children ages 5 to 12 a chance to practice reading skills to a furry (and fabulous) audience: therapy dogs!

As part of PAWS for Reading, the library provides literacy information about general groups of readers, and how the program supports each group's reading goals.

First, we start with "Emergent Readers." (In coming weeks, we'll look at "Learning To Read" readers and "Reading To Learn" readers.)

These young "almost" readers are typically ages 3 to 6 years old and show interest in books and may be able to recognize some words. They like to talk about pictures in books and sometimes make up stories that go with them. In general, they understand that print communicates messages. However, they do not fully grasp how to decode text into sounds and sounds into words with meaning.

How PAWS for Reading Helps Your Emergent Reader:

Because reading to a therapy dog is fun for most kids, PAWS for Reading communicates to your child that reading is a joyful activity that should be repeated. Research also shows that spending time with animals reduces anxiety and boosts feel-good hormones, which should benefit your child when he or she begins the sometimes-difficult process of learning how to decode and make sesne of written text.

What You Can Do To Support Your Emergent Reader:

  • Read aloud to your child every day! Even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes per day, this special reading time together builds background knowledge and vocabulary and lets them know that you value reading.
  • Help your child select familiar books to "read" to the dog. Books that your child already knows from repeated read-alouds are good candidates for PAWS for Reading sessions for emergent readers.
  • Focus on meaning. Unless the book has few words, your emergent reader won't be able to read every word in a book. That's OK! Let your child know that the dogs love hearing stories even when they are not perfectly read.

For more information about PAWS for Reading, call the library at 918-549-7323 (READ) or visit the PAWS for Reading web page.

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