The nightly reader shouldn’t put you in a panic. It’s a lovely time to bond with your child, see their reading growth, and get an inside look into how they learn.
The purpose of the nightly reader is to help your child get used to the conventions of reading, use repetition to develop decoding skills and fluency, and to develop an appreciation and enjoyment of reading.
Nightly readers are short and sweet and usually shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes. They are picture heavy and words and phrases are repeated throughout the book. This helps children develop familiarity with words in order to learn how to read them.
How to help your child with their nightly reader
Always praise at the end of the reading. Avoid saying things like good job or lovely reading. Say exactly what you liked:
What do you do if they don’t know how to read a word?
It’s so important that you allow your child to figure reading out themselves. If they come to a word they don’t know use the following strategy to help walk them through it.
When your child comes to a word they don’t know, try not to jump in straight away. Wait and give your child time to work out the word.
If your child successfully works out the problem word, suggest they go back to the beginning of the sentence and re-read it (to recap meaning) before reading on.
If your child has not worked out the problem word, prompt them with some quick, low-key suggestions. Say things like:
“Try reading on for a sentence or two, miss out the difficult word and see if that helps you to work it out.”
“Look at the sound the word begins with, use that clue, and think about what may make sense here? Look at the pictures.”
If they guess the word and get it wrong, but have initial sounds right, ask them to pay attention to the final sounds in the word.
e.g “Look at the sound at the end, does it make a n sound. What sound does it make? “t” right. Can you try that word again?”
If prompts like these are not working, simply tell your child the correct word. Try not to spend too much time prompting, as your child will find it difficult to maintain the overall meaning of what they are reading.
Praise your child’s reading efforts and successes.