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Improve Literacy Newsletter

21 April 2010 -- Issue 22

Hi there!

Last Tuesday was Drop Everything and Read Day, so in this edition we thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about how sustained silent reading (SSR) can help your child's reading and learning skills. Let's get straight into it!

In this issue:

1. Things to bear in mind with sustained silent reading
2. Resources to help with SSR
3. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
4. The Improve Literacy website

1. Things to bear in mind with sustained silent reading

Sustained silent reading, also referred to by some as recreational reading, independent reading or DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) is beneficial to young readers in a number of ways; it allows them to choose what they want to read, it can allow them to use their acquired word skills to work out and learn new vocabulary, and it often motivates reluctant readers to start reading outside the classroom.

Plus there is the added bonus that a supervisor (parent or teacher) is always on hand if help is ever needed.

So here are a few things to bear in mind when you and your child drop everything and read.

- Make sure your child reads something he or she enjoys. Reading alone must be a pleasurable experience, so it's critical that your child is interested in the subject matter.

- Let your child decide what he wants to read, and don't force him to read something he doesn't find engaging and stimulating.

- Keep a regular silent reading routine, and balance at-home sessions with those in the classroom.

- Read silently yourself. If your child sees you reading she is more likely to consider it a regular part of everyday life and want to do it herself. Young kids are great mimics, so make the most of this opportunity to get them reading. It's also great time out for you!!

- Make sure your routine is not 'school in disguise'.

- Slow, steady silence can be intimidating for young kids at first, so consider playing a couple of minutes' soft music that fades to silence at the start of the session.

- The session is for reading, so be sure that this is what your child does. Not writing, not email, not surfing the web. Try to make it a time for recreational reading rather than reading school books.

2. A few resources to help with SSR

Here are a few useful places to go to help you with Sustained Silent Reading:

Drop Everything and Read -

All about the Drop Everything and Read Day activities, the background to the initiative, and additional related resources for teachers, parents, librarians and even bookstores.

K3Resources -

This website describes itself as "Quality Hands-On Early Childhood, Kindergarten, Preschool and Early Primary Teaching Resources". The SSR section contains an authoritative, useful article by an expert, and the comments below it contain contributors' own hints and tips on ways to achieve successful sustained silent reading sessions in the home and at school.

WikEd -

This Wikipedia-style article provides detailed infomation about Sustained Silent Reading, including definitions, its application, and evidence of its success in different environments. It is useful for getting an in-depth insight into the subject of SSR.

Read2Me Club -

This article explains the purpose of Sustained Silent Reading.

Read Write Think -

This site gives a detailed lesson plan for teachers (but can also be a useful guide for parents too) in SSR. While it is mainly US-focussed, it is broadly relevant for all English-speakers. It provides an overview of the course, the standards it adheres to, resources and preparation, an instructional plan, and comments.

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