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Beacon Senior News

Help your grandkids with reading

Jun 28, 2022 12:21PM ● By Marianne Hering & Peggy Wilber

Oprah Winfrey credits her grandmother with teaching her to read at age 3 and fostering a love for books. Reading expert Sally Shaywitz, author of “Overcoming Dyslexia,” has found that children who read 20 minutes every day outside of school read 1.8 million words per year. And most of those kids, she said, score above the 90th percentile in reading. 

 Hold on to that good news; you’re going to need it. Chances are your grandchildren’s schooling was disrupted by the pandemic. Chances are the lost schooling put your grandchildren “30 percent behind expectations” in reading, according to researchers at Stanford. 

But chances are also good you can influence your grandchildren and encourage them to read for fun. Here are five tried-and-true tips to help children improve their reading and enjoy it more. 

5 tips for fostering reading

Tip 1: A good reading selection is one in which your grandchild can read 19 out of 20 words correctly (or makes only one mistake for every 20 words read or 95 percent). Choosing short passages is key for readers testing below the third-grade level.

Tip 2: If your grandchild makes several mistakes, then she will need your help. Read the short selection to her, then with her, then let her read it by herself.

Tip 3: Ask your grandchild what his favorite books are. Buy him sequels if he likes a specific series. Don’t worry if the books are silly or “below his grade level.” This purchase will help him develop a love of reading. If he can’t identify his favorites, ask his parents, a librarian or a teacher for suggestions.

Tip 4: What topics does your grandchild like to talk about? Is it ballet or LEGOs or snow leopards? Get a book on that topic that you can read together.

Tip 5: Put a sticker or a checkmark on a chart each day your grandchild reads with you, in person or online. Ten checkmarks may be rewarded with a treat, an event or a fun game with you. This not only provides an extrinsic reward but also builds confidence and self-discipline when a child can see her progress.

For grandparents of struggling readers

Trust that your grandchild is reading the best he can for now. He is probably avoiding reading because his brain feels threatened every time he is told to read something that is actually too hard—because he doesn’t read at grade level yet. As a grandparent, you can offer a safe and encouraging environment for your grandchild to learn at his own pace.

D-11 reading specialist Peggy Wilber works with young neighbors Micah and Elijah to fluently read a favorite book.

 One hallmark of a struggling reader is being inconsistent while reading. Your grandchild might have been able to read specific words yesterday—but then need your help to read them today. Don’t be discouraged. Struggling readers can take as many as eight tries (or more) to learn a short paragraph.

 Be positive! Your grandchild already feels frustrated (especially all day in school) about not being able to read as well as other students in her class. She needs your encouragement because reading is a lot of effort right now. Positive words of affirmation and hugs from a grandparent go a long way toward mending a struggling reader’s heart.

Create a grandparent distance learning program

Even if they aren’t local, you can still help your grandkids read from a distance. Select a book title and buy two copies or get the book at the library. Ship a second copy to your grandchild or ask the parents to get the same book at their library. Read the book together on the phone or listen to your grandchild while he reads his favorite pages to you on Zoom, Google Meet or another video communications app. Read a couple of your favorite pages to him.

You can also explore books via YouTube. Many popular children’s picture books are recorded online. You can video communicate and watch the book together. Then turn off the sound, go back to the beginning of the story and ask your grandchild to read the book with your help. (Unfortunately, if you turn off the sound for YouTube, you also turn off the sound for the video communication.)

Write and illustrate a book for your grandchild and mail it or create a PDF book using free images found online. (Pixaby.com, Unsplash.com and clip art-library.com are good resources.) Then ask your grandchild to write a story for you and email it or mail it. 

Books that kids love

Joke and riddle books

Easier Dr. Seuss books

“National Geographic Readers”: Animals, levels 1, 2, 3

“Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot” series 

“Owl Diaries” series 

“Dog Man” series 

“Step into Reading” series: Levels 1, 2, 3

“Choose Your Own Adventure” series

“Can You Survive” series

“Magic Tree House” series

“The Imagination Station” series

“BOB Books,” set 1


The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books are one of many book series popular with young children.

Free reading help

Books for early readers
Marianne Hering is a Colorado author who is creating an early reader series. 

For a limited time, the first book, “Yaks on Tracks,” can be downloaded for free at www.mariannehering.com/early-readers

Books for older kids

The BEACON is giving you a FREE BOOK to get you started reading with your grandkids!

Just in time for Independence Day, “I Live in America,” written and illustrated by Elizabeth Nelson, will take you and your grandchildren on a journey across the U.S. with colorful, charming pictures and interesting historical facts.

To get your FREE BOOK, stop by the BEACON office 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 

524 30 Road #4, Grand Junction
(in the Plaza Del Sol building) 

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