Students who are advanced in reading typically begin to read either on their own or with the help of an adult or older sibling at a very young age and before they start school. These are children who may have a passion for reading about a variety of topics or just one. They may also enjoy reading all different types of literature. Advanced readers may also have a large vocabulary for their age. They can understand complex story lines and the humor in stories. To nourish these students’ love and talent for reading and learning, here are some tips:
Model asking curious questions about the world around you. Try to ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “Did you see that interesting bird in the field?” ask “What did you notice about that interesting bird in the field?” “What questions do you have about that bird?” These curious questions could spark excitement in your child to read a book to find out the answers! Take a trip to the local library, look up information online, or go to a bird sanctuary to deepen your child’s learning experience.
Ask your child to think about the author’s writing style. “What about the author’s writing style do you like? How would you improve the story to make it more interesting?” As a follow-up activity, have your child write his own story using a similar writing style. If your child really likes a particular author, he could research information about the author or read the author’s biography. Your child could send the author a letter with questions about the book or compliments about the author’s writing.
Encourage your child to continue to read a wide range of appropriately challenging texts including magazines, newspapers, websites, short stories, novels, poems, foreign language books, fiction (made up stories), and non-fiction text (factual stories). Your child can enhance their learning by focusing on a particular topic that is interesting to her. Also, try to introduce new or related topics of potential interest through different types of texts. For example, if your child is a voracious reader and primarily reads informational texts about rocks and minerals, try to have her read a biography about a famous geologist. Talk to your child about a variety of professions that exist or ask a local librarian for help in locating books on different professions.
Help your child pick out books that are challenging enough. Sometimes advanced readers pick books that are way too easy for them. Try to help them pick books that might be 1 to 1.5 levels above their current grade level. For example, if you have a 3rd grader who seems advanced in reading, try to have him read a book that might be at the beginning or middle of the year 4th grade level. Look at the back cover of the book to find the reading level or recommended grade level written on the bottom. Ask your child’s teacher for help in determining what reading level your child is at and how to further challenge your child.
Here are two websites that can help you determine the reading level of a book:
Resources for Locating Books for Advanced Readers:
Because advanced readers may be at a wide range of reading levels, here are some recommended online books lists that can help you locate appropriately challenging books for your child.
Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page
The Baldwin Online Children’s Project
The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children ~ National Council of Teachers of English
The Sibert Informational Book Medal
NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People http://www.socialstudies.org/resources/notable
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books