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Reading Selections


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What is a Reading Selection?

A common mistake that adults make is to insist that a child read a whole book. It is far better to help a child reread a short selection to excellence. A short selection is one or two pages from an easy book or one paragraph from a higher level book. If the selection is on the correct readability level for your child, he should make no more than one or two mistakes per twenty words. Any more than that will cause him frustration and will actually block his reading progress.3

Don't make him read it cold turkey either or he'll sound like a car starting up on a winter morning - bumpy and hesitant. We don't want your child to practice bad reading. That's why you want to do the following:

  1. Read the short selection to him twice.
  2. Read the same selection with him twice.
  3. Finally, ask him to read it by himself twice.


To, With, and By is a fabulous repeated reading technique that will catapult your child forward in reading skills.4 It will help him learn and apply sight words more quickly, helps him to practice fluent reading and improves his comprehension-all the important skills of reading.

Some parents say, "But she's memorizing the selection!" Well, when was the last time you used phonics to sound out words while reading? Phonics is used as a last resort when bumping into unknown words such as cruciate ligament. When reading you usually recognize words by sight. Phonic skills are necessary to jump-start the process of learning to read. But reading by using sight words is more efficient.

You might be thinking, "My child isn't getting enough practice if she isn't reading a whole book." My answer is, your child gets excellent practice when you do To, With, and By in a short selection. A little bit of good reading is a lot better than a whole lot of bad reading.

Have I convinced you to do To, With, and By? Your child might not be thrilled at first. However, once she gets the hang of it, her attitude will improve and her reading skills will skyrocket.



3. Edward Fry, How to Teach Reading: For Teachers, Parents, Tutors (Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach Educational Books, 1995), 20.
4. Barbara E. R. Swaby, Journey Into Literacy: A Workbook for Parents and Teachers of Young Children (Colorado Springs: Swaby Books Publisher, 1992).




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