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How to hook reluctant readers – 6 tips

How parents can help get their kids into reading? Here are his six tips:

Encourage reading for fun. Adults read for pleasure and fun, and from an early age kids do, too. But I think as adults we take the fun out of reading. I think parents need to make sure kids are reading for fun and finding characters they can relate to. I created a flawed protagonist in Greg Heffley, and a lot of kids seem to relate to him.

Feed your kid’s interests, even if they’re not yours. Fifth- and sixth-grade boys are into Minecraft, and now there’s a lot of literature about Minecraft. If you give them something they’re really interested in, then reading will follow like a boulder rolling down a hill.

Be happy your kid is reading something, even if it’s not a book. Reading can get done in many ways, even if it’s through periodicals or the Web. I turned my kids on to the comics I read as a kid, which were part of my dad’s comic book collection, especially those by Carl Barks, who wrote the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics. I read them for the good storytelling (I was never into superhero comics). We have stories to read on my website for kids, Poptropica, where kids can learn about history and other cultures, but the emphasis is on fun and good storytelling. I know screen time is an issue for parents, and we limit our kids’ screen time to an hour or two a day. But not all screen time is equal.

Find authors your kid will love. When I was a kid, the options were very limited. I read my sister’s books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, which I loved. But now there are so many really wonderful choices. I’d recommend anything by Kate DiCamillo [Flora & Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux] and Lincoln Peirce [Big Nate] or Stephan Pastis’ series, Timmy Failure. There’s an author out there for everyone. I think it’s the parents’ job to funnel the kids in the right direction.

Give them books with art. Kids go from reading picture books with big, beautiful illustrations to chapter books with no illustrations. Even as an adult, I want pictures when I read, even if it’s in People magazine — I need something to reward the effort. I think kids are the same way. For me, drawings are kind of a crutch in my books, because they’re what I use to pay the jokes off.

Add humor. Making my books funny is my way to sneak the cartoons into them. I cut my teeth on cartooning and comic books, and, when I couldn’t break into that, I switched over to books and was lucky enough to be well received.

(Source : Common Sense Media )


Summer Reading List for Eager Teen Readers

School’s out for summer! That means swimsuits, beach trips, summer camp, and loads of summer reading. We’ve rounded up 10 new books for book-hungry middle schoolers. Five picks are nonfiction and five are fiction, but they span genres and topics as varied as the Russian Revolution and futuristic empires, touching memoirs and clever urban fantasies.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, ages 10+
What It’s About: Raised in both South Carolina and New York, author Jacqueline Woodson shares tales of her upbringing through Jim Crow and Civil Rights in the ’60s and ’70s. Told completely in verse, Woodson’s book details cherished memories about her grandparents, pop culture, new friends, and living in both the segregated country and diverse city streets.
Why Read It? Woodson’s award-winning memoir (National Book Award, Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Author Award) is funny and sad and everything in between. The intimate and engaging poems will teach middle schoolers about a complicated time in American history, but it’s also a universal story about coming of age, changing family dynamics, and learning what makes you uniquely talented.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, ages 10+
What It’s About: Before she was the youngest Noble Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai was a young Pashtun girl who loved to learn in her hometown of Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Although her mother was illiterate, Malala grew up in a girls’ school run by her father. A curious, precocious learner who firmly believed in a girl’s God-given right to learn, Malala was considered a blasphemous troublemaker by the Taliban, and in 2012 she was shot by a Taliban gunman. She survived and refused to be silenced.
Why Read It? Educating girls is a global human rights issue, and Malala’s story teaches young readers that even the youngest advocate can have a huge impact. As Malala explains, in countries “where women aren’t allowed to go out in public without a man, we girls traveled far and wide inside the pages of our books. In a land where many women can’t read the prices in the markets, we did multiplication … we ran as free as the wind.”

Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens, ages 10+
What It’s About: In 1930s Hong Kong, a Chinese Anglophile sends his 13-year-old daughter Hazel Wong to boarding school in England. When she arrives at the perpetually dark and damp Deepdean School for Girls, Hazel is in awe of the young (and mean) English girls she meets. Still, she connects with plucky and beautiful Daisy Wells, who asks Hazel to be the Watson to her Holmes. There’s not much sleuthing for the girls to do until Hazel discovers the dead body of the science mistress — but by the time Hazel runs back with Daisy, the body has mysteriously disappeared.
Why Read It? This boarding-school mystery in a historical setting is written in the tradition of Nancy Drew with a dash of Veronica Mars humor and Hogwarts excitement. Although the main characters are girls, boys will enjoy the Holmes-and-Watson-style (or should we say Wells-and-Wong) adventures in figuring out what in the world is happening around them.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip M. Hoose, ages 12+
What It’s About: During WWII, Denmark didn’t resist Nazi occupation, and this deeply shamed 15-year-old Knud Pedersen, who along with his brother and some classmates started a small, secret club of political resisters in 1941. Full of brave but naïve teenage boys desperate to undermine the Nazi regime, the Churchill Club committed 25 acts of sabotage — disabling German vehicles, stealing Nazi arms, and destroying and defacing German property — before being arrested in 1942.
Why Read It? What middle schooler doesn’t want to read about teens who defied authority for the greater good? The Churchill Club’s actions sound like something out of a movie, but they really happened, and Hoose interweaves his own historical nonfiction with recollections from Pedersen himself. This is the kind of book students would gladly read for history class, because the characters are such courageous, clever young heroes.

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming, ages 12+
What It’s About: Award-winning children’s author Candace Fleming captures the final years of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Czar Nicholas II isn’t prepared to step up and lead his vast empire. An intensely personal man, Nicholas is better suited to family life with his German and English wife Alexandra (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) and their five children: four girls and one sickly son. As revolutionaries gain ground and WWI approaches, it becomes clear that the Czar and his family are headed toward doom.
Why Read It? History buffs or not, kids interested in “real stories” will love Fleming’s straightforward style of explaining complex sociopolitical ideas and historical contexts concerning the Imperial family, World War I, the Russian Revolution, Russian Orthodox ideology, and even European royalty. There’s a lot to digest, but it’s always fascinating. Fans of nonfiction narratives will dive into Fleming’s chronicle of one of history’s most fascinating downfalls.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, ages 12+
What It’s About: Fourteen-year-old Audrey struggles with severe anxiety stemming from unspecified school bullying. She is under a doctor’s care and making slow but steady progress, but things significantly change when Audrey meets her brother’s online gaming friend, Linus. Despite her social anxiety, Audrey finds it easy to talk to Linus, and their friendship eventually turns into a sweet romance.
Why Read It? Best-selling author Kinsella, who’s best known for her popular Shopaholic series, delivers her first young adult novel, a realistic contemporary story about social anxiety and gaming addiction that’s nevertheless filled with her infectious brand of humor and romance. A book featuring a young teen protagonist, tough issues, humor, and a quirky, close-knit family? Sounds like an ideal mother-daughter read.

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganada and Caitlin Alifrenka, ages 12+
What It’s About: In 1997, 12-year-old American middle schooler Caitlin and 14-year-old Zimbabwean Martin are paired as pen pals through their schools. At first, Caitlin sends photos and trinkets and asks for the same, not realizing the depths of poverty in which Martin lives. Eventually Caitlin and her family start to send financial support to Martin, and their international friendship forever changes each of their lives.
Why Read It? Caitlin and Martin’s letters and perspectives will teach kids to better appreciate their relative good fortune and to understand how a little bit of help and a lot of compassion can make a huge impact on someone else’s life. Caitlin and Martin’s extraordinary friendship should inspire your kid to be a better global citizen.

Undertow by Michael Buckley. ages 13+
What It’s About: Coney Island native Lyric Walker has a family secret: She’s part “Sirena.” So when 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race (Sirena being among them) of beautiful but violent humanoid sea warriors, land on her beach, she knows this means trouble. Lyric’s New York City beach town turns into a militarized zone with the Alpha on one side and humans on another. Then Lyric is asked to give Fathom, the gorgeous and militant Alpha prince, reading lessons, and sparks fly. Which side will she choose?

Why Read It? Described as a combination of The 5th Wave and Twilight with sea creatures, this romantic dystopian fantasy seems to have enough action, war, and adventure to balance out the fiery romance, making it an equally compelling choice for any kid who wants to start reading a popular new series.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, ages 14+
What It’s About: This dual-narrative fantasy follows two characters in an alternate universe with a strict caste system: Laia is a Scholar (the oppressed class), and Elias is an elite military student for the Empire. After Laia’s brother is arrested, she joins a resistance movement that places her as a slave at the military academy where Elias is a rising star. Despite their differences, the slave and the soldier have more in common than they care to admit, and together they could start a revolution.
Why Read It? One of the biggest debuts of the year, Tahir’s fantasy novel is already a New York Times bestseller and has secured a sequel as well as a lucrative movie deal.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, ages 14+
What It’s About: Thirteen-year-old Noah and his twin sister Jude are inseparable until their art-critic mom announces that their dearly departed grandmother’s ghost wants them to apply to a local arts high school. The competition for their mom’s approval coupled with an unexpected, catastrophic loss leads to three years of drifting apart, finding love, and discovering whom they want to be as artists, siblings, and people.
Why Read It? Nelson’s gorgeously written coming-of-age novel won multiple awards in 2014, and it deserved every accolade. Best for seventh- and eighth-graders mature enough to immerse themselves in the story’s magical realism, philosophical themes, and relationship issues, I’ll Give You the Sun will impress English teachers and make readers want to share the book with friend.

(Source : By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media)

How to Help Public Speaking at Home

Having to give a speech in front of an audience scares most people, but if your children learn crucial skills in their childhood, they can avoid being ever anxious about speaking in public. There are many other benefits of learning how to speak in front of people. It helps to build their communication skills and confidence. They learn how to capture the audience’s attention, develop charisma, and write their own speech. They also discover their own potential.

Learn by practice:

Using your computer or smart phone, show your child how to record videos. After recording, give your child constructive comments. By watching his/her own videos, your child will realize how he/she presented to other people. It’s a great way to learn and improve.

Find interesting examples of public speeches:
Look on YouTube and other video sharing websites for speeches and presentations. Find some good and some poor examples. Watching poor presentations might teach your child more than watching a good speech. Sit together with your child and discuss: Was it a good or a poor presentation? Why was it good? Why was it poor? What could you personally apply to your own presentation in the future?

Provide opportunities to speak:
Whenever there is an important event, such as a wedding celebration, a friend or relative’s birthday, etc. allow your child to speak. The more exposure your child gets to bigger groups the better. Your child will gain a powerful advantage and gradually lose the fear of public speaking.

Use favorite subjects:
Let your child’s imagination run wild. Have your child present on things he/she has made or constructed, a favorite sport, or a short story he/she has written. Have your child do this on a regular basis at home.

Incorporate games:
You can help your child to avoid using long pauses or words/sounds while speaking such as “um,” “uh,” “like,” “er,” and “you know.” Eliminating these words and sounds creates focus on purposeful speaking and increases vocabulary and articulation. Take turns with your child to give a short presentation. Take note on a paper how many “um’s” were uttered. Guess each other’s number. Repeat the same process and see whose number has been reduced.

Reading Town Summer Programs 2017

During this summer spent at Reading Town, your children can completely overcome their weak subjects and improve their academic competence. We guarantee that you will see a dramatic boost in your children’s scores, competence, and confidence when the new semester starts in September.

Reading Town offers Early Registration & Sibling Discount for Summer 2017 programs.


How to Help Reading at Home

Grade K~1 (Leveled Reading Phase)

  1. Help the student to read aloud once a day for a minimum of three days.
  2. Help the student read by pointing to each word with his/her finger.
  3. What if the student encounters an unfamiliar word? Ask him or her to guess the word from a picture that illustrates it or gives a hint about its meaning. Also, have the student read the word by identifying the beginning sound of the word and by using other phonics methods.


Post-Reading Activity

  1. Ask the student to talk about the story. Do not ask the student to identify the main idea unless he/she is in first grade or above. Praise the student for any content that he/she remembers correctly, even if he/she may not remember everything from the book.
  2. Ask the student which part of the book was the most interesting.
  3. Have the student write a book report. Instead of requiring them to write a detailed summary, have them write about the main character and what the main character does. In the beginning, it is important to allow the student to use sentences directly from the book and to refrain from correcting spelling errors too vigorously.

Grade 2~3 (Independent Reading Phase)

  1. Help the student to read silently once a day for a minimum of three days.
  2. Picture books can help the student develop an active imagination.
  3. The time from second to third grade is a crucial period during which reading habits are established. It is important to have the student create a reading log so that he/she can feel enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment.
  4. What if the student encounters an unfamiliar word? The student should try to guess its meaning before consulting the dictionary, especially if the word is a verb.

Post-Reading Activity

  1. Ask the student to talk about the story.
  2. Ask the student which part of the book was the most interesting.
  3. Ask the student about the characters and setting.
  4. Ask the student what he/she learned from the book.
  5. Have the student write a book report. By second grade, most students can understand the physical setting and time in which the story takes place. In addition, they are able to summarize the contents of the book using their own sentences instead of sentences taken directly from the book.

Grade 4 & Above (Targeted Reading Phase)

  1. Chapter book reading
  2. Choosing a favorite author
  3. Recognizing the book’s structure and themes
  4. Approaching the story from a literary perspective: understanding genre, point of view, story structure, mood, and symbolism
  5. Informative reading about diverse topics in society, science, history, and current events (Reading about themes that are directly related to their school studies can help students improve their performance in school.)
  6. Reading the classics.

Post-Reading Activity

  1. Character Study – Have the student interpret the characters’ personalities and actions and write about them.
  2. Have the student write a summary of each chapter and a summary of the entire book.
  3. Have the student analyze and compare various books by the same author.
  4. Have the student write a book report. The student must be able to express his/her personal views about the conflicts that occur in the story and the characters who try to resolve them. The student should also be able to summarize the contents of nonfiction books in addition to those of storybooks.

Why Three Times?

When students read a book for the first time, they are likely to be curious about the events in the story and how the story ends, thus focusing most of their attention on the plot. The hidden meanings and subtle details of the story that emerge upon a second or third reading ultimately enable students to exercise their critical thinking skills. In addition, studying the new vocabulary from the story is more effective in the second or third reading than in the first reading.

Must Students Read Aloud?

For students in second grade and above whose books contain a high volume of content, reading a book aloud may hinder comprehension. In such cases, students must read the book silently after reading it aloud. Doing so enables them to practice their articulation and comprehension at the same time. For students in the lower grades or ESL students who need to improve their pronunciation or presentation skills, reading aloud is strongly recommended.

Parent-Teacher Conference Tips

Parent-teacher conference is a time when important people in your child’s life can talk about how he/she is doing in school. It’s a chance for you to ask questions about the class or your child’s progress. It is also a time for you and the teacher to work together as a team to discuss ways you both can help your son or daughter.

Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or secondary school, parent-teacher conferences are important. If your school does not schedule regular conferences, you can request them.

Teachers need your help to do a first-class job. Together, you can help your child have a great school year.

Before the conference

Talk to your child:

Find out which subjects your child likes the best and the least. Ask why. Also, ask if there is anything your child would like you to talk about with the teacher. Help the child understand that you and the teacher are meeting to help him or her. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to include him or her in the conference.

Make a list:

Before you go to the conference, make a list of topics to discuss with the teacher. Questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher. Along with questions about academics and behavior, you may want to talk to the teacher about the child’s home life, personality, concerns, habits and hobbies, and other topics that may help the teacher in working with the child (e.g., religious holidays, music lessons, part-time jobs, a sick relative).

During the conference

Establish rapport:

Take notice of something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank the teacher for having made thoughtful notes on your child’s homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to multiply.

Ask questions:

Refer to the list you’ve made. It is a good idea to ask the important questions first, in case time runs out. Also ask what is being done about the problem and what strategies seem to help at school.

Develop an action plan:

If the student needs help with a behavioral or an academic issue, you and the teacher should agree on specific plans-that you both will work on-to help your child do better. Plans will include steps parents can take at home and steps the teacher will take when the problem comes up at school. Be sure you understand what the teacher suggests.

After the conference

Talk to your child:

Stress the good things that were covered and be direct about problems that were identified. If an action plan is in place, explain to the child what was arranged. When an action plan is in place, consider the following: Watch your child’s behavior and check on classwork and homework. Ask how the student feels about schoolwork. Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child’s progress, and make sure to express appreciation as progress is made.

Continue relationship with teacher:

A good way to promote a continuing relationship with the teacher is to say “thank-you” with a note or a telephone call. Continuing to keep in touch with the teacher, even if things are going well, can play an important role in helping the child do better in school. When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort.

Sample questions

Ask the teacher about your child’s academic work: strengths, areas in need of improvement, current level, and academic focus of the classroom. If your child is having any academic difficulties, ask about specific things you can do to support your child at home. In addition, ask the teacher how he/she views your child’s emotional and social skills, whom your child socializes with, and how he relates with peers and adults.

Ask about the school:

  • How is the school working to keep students on track and/or raise achievement?
  • How can I stay aware of what my child’s assignments are and how my child is doing in class?
  • What are students expected to master by the end of the year? How will you be gauging my child’s progress toward these goals?
  • If my child is falling behind, how will I be notified?

Ask about your child:

  • What are my child’s academic strengths? What areas need improvement?
  • What is my child’s current achievement level and how does it compare with other students in the same age group?
  • What specific things can I do to support my child and reinforce classroom lessons at home?
  • How do you view my child’s emotional and social skills?
  • With whom does my child socialize? How does my child relate to peers and adults?
  • Is my child able to work both in groups and independently?
  • Does my child exhibit a good attitude toward learning? Does my child make a good effort on assignments and turn in completed assignments?
  • Does my child stay on task well or need frequent reminders? Has my child been developing good work habits?
  • Does my child participate in class? Does my child behave in class?
  • How much time should my child be spending on homework each night?
  • Have you noticed any issues that need to be addressed or interests to be encouraged?

How to Help Writing at Home

To develop important writing skills, it is important for children to start early. Frustration or lack of interest may shut them down to learning in the future. This is where parents can help at home. Follow these tips to help your children build writing skills that they will use throughout their educational career.

Teenage girl doing homework

Provide a place for your child to write

The writing area should be quiet and well lit. Stock this area with supplies such as paper, pencils, and crayons. You can also gather family photos and magazines and place them in the area so they can be used as story starters.

Read, read, read

The best activity to improve writing is reading. If your child reads good books, he/she will be a better writer. Reading exposes students to general vocabulary, word study, and content-specific vocabulary. Through reading, students see a variety of authors’ techniques that they can use in their own writing.

Provide authentic writing opportunities for your child

Look for opportunities for purposeful writing at home, and encourage your child to read and write letters to family, grocery lists, messages, postcards, thank-you notes, and party invitations.

Be a writing role model

Make sure that your child sees you reading and writing. It is recommended that you also write when your child writes. You can schedule a day of the week that you will turn off the television and/or other distractions and share your writing.

Ask questions

Always ask your child questions when he/she writes. Ask specific questions about your child’s writing: How did that happen? How did that make you feel? Can you tell me more about …? What are some other words you could use to describe …?

Encourage your child to embrace the concept of revision

Sit down with your child and read through his/her writing together. Make your child circle grammatical mistakes. Before making corrections, have your child tell you what he/she should have done differently.

Don’t over-criticize

It is helpful to point out errors now and then, but if your child thinks you always look for what’s wrong, he/she will not want to share his/her writing with you.

Publish your child’s writing

Share your child writing with others, place it on the refrigerator, or encourage your child to write for kids’ magazines. When your child’s writing is published in a children’s book, he/she will be on the way to becoming a lifelong writer and author.

How to Prepare for SSAT Test

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) consists of two parts: a brief essay, and a multiple-choice aptitude test which measures your ability to solve mathematics problems, to use language, and to comprehend what yor read.

The test is administered on two levels:

  • Lower (for students currently in grades 5-7)
  • Upper (for students currently in grades 8-11)

Many editions of the test exist to ensure that no student takes the same SSAT twice. All tests are printed in English. The test is timed and divided into five sections. You will be given 25 minutes for the writing sample, 40 minutes for the reading section, and 30 minutes each for the remaining multiple-choice sections.

Reading Town program is not score-oriented, but rather through our programs, students can successfully prepare for the SSAT and expect high scores.

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