Reading Research

How the LIFELIGHT BOOKS support the Best Approaches to Reading for Children

Though it seems that every year or two schools switch reading programs in search of the ultimate way to teach reading, in reality, children learn to read in many ways.

At LIFELIGHT, we have embedded easy ways for parents to use three well-researched strategies for supporting children’s reading. These are the following:

    I. Special Reading Time: Quantity of reading per week matters. Studies show that less than half of parents read with their children at least 15 to 20 minutes a day (the magic number of minutes for reading advancement), and that percentage grows larger as a child approaches 2nd or 3rd grade. Yet, even reading to children in infancy, no matter whether the child knows all the words or not, if done with both quality and quantity, can nurture both reading and vocabulary skills measured four years later, when that child starts school. Quantity of Reading Time and Space includes both the time spent reading to the child, and the number of books in the home. In the LIFELIGHT PLAYBOOK, everyday reading time is made “intimate and special” using the LifeLight Playbook’s Time and Space design.

    II. Quality of Reading Time: This always involves interaction with the parent. A study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, showed that of two factors that resulted in reading elevation, Quality of Reading had the greatest impact. Even babies and toddlers who regularly receive quality reading time from a parent, show much higher reading skills four years later, when they enter school.

Research shows that Quality Reading Time occurs in a distraction-free environment, and uses expressive, interactive reading to infants, toddlers, and older children. For these reasons, LifeLight Books include:

             1. Special Reading Environment: Multiple studies show that reading, for any age child, is greatly impacted by distraction in the reading environment, even when a parent is reading to that child. Dr. Reiher’s experience in media studies and helps parents create distraction-free time for reading, parent role modeling (the biggest influence on a child), and sleeping.

             2. Reflective questions, that are developmentally appropriate, appear at the back of the books. They support reflective thinking skills, and the sound of a parent’s tone of voice when talking sharing them, so that social emotional learning (shown to be a positive outcome of early shared reading) develops between the parent and child interaction. These skills are written into the story rather that taught through a workbook, and because there are no “right” answers, parents gain a natural way of listening to what their child thinks about a character or situation, and can create and open, consciously create way to dialogue with their child about the book’s themes.  Note that a higher risk of social-emotional problems have been reported in preschool age children who are do not experience frequent quality, reflective shared reading.

Reflective reading is one of the strongest ways to boost reading comprehension, a skill that is more difficult than decoding words.

             3. Expressive reading and reacting is especially important for younger children to hear. It contains the excitement and wonder that parents or caregivers feel about the book and reading itself as well as the way we read sentences with pauses, periods, and when reading dialogue.

     III.  Phonemic Awareness: This is the newest focus in teaching reading. Phonemic Awareness is based on the brain’s ability to hear and manipulate the sounds or sound groupings within words. It is used as a precursor of phonics, where every letter is sounded out. Instead, the first sounds of words are emphasized, and later the last sounds. The brain, which thinks in chunks of information, can then attach the sound to the first letter or letter blend (t, tr) to the sound of the rest of the word or syllables.

Because the teacher training is more complex than this, and in order to help parents still support their children in decoding words, the LifeLight Books will choose a sound that repeats in several words in a LifeLight book, and have parents just emphasize that sound. One or two read throughs of that book help a child to master that sound, and some of the words. On a third read through, parents can help a child with another sound, letter blend, or even unusual vowel pairing. The choices of those words are based on the Reading Level Spectrum of your child’s grade.

LifeLight Books try to avoid making parents feel that they must become teachers. They will simply enjoy ways to reinforce the sounds in words and the connection between the parent or caregiver during reading. The reflective questions, one per reading, help create a reflective dialogue where parents hear… how their child is thinking about problems, interests, or how they think about their life. Parents easily learn how to make the most out of a special time that also has a powerful impact on their child’s reading future. Note that a higher risk of social-emotional problems have been reported in preschool age children who are do not experience frequent quality shared reading.