The folks at The Hanen Centre kindly sent me a copy of I’m Ready – How to Prepare Your Child for Reading Success and asked me what I thought. Here in the UK advice about how to support literacy skills seems to change frequently, so I was interested to see what Janice Greenberg and Elaine Weitzman suggest.
The book has 6 chapters: Early Literacy, Conversation, Vocabulary, Story Comprehension, Print Knowledge and Sound Awareness. It’s visually appealing; the text is broken up by photographs and drawings. I read it over several days and found it easy to pick up where I’d left off. There’s a comprehensive list of recommended children’s books, coded in terms of how they can be used to support literacy. I think the ‘Try it out!’ checklists and reflection questions look useful.
The book is full of practical examples from real families, so it’s both straight forward to apply and realistic, in terms of what parents can fit into their lives. There are plenty of Hanen’s trademark memory aids, some familiar like OWLing (observe, wait, and listen) and some new (to me) like POP – point out print.
My favourite thing about the book is how clear the authors are about the importance of making reading fun by following the child’s lead. I often worry that parents go in too heavy with the flashcards approach, which can put kids off, so I was relieved that the book stresses reading needs to be fun.
The blurb on the back of the book states that the authors have taken the most current research and broken it down into fun strategies for promoting early literacy. The only thing that frustrated me is that although they’ve provided references for each chapter, these aren’t clearly identified in the text. It simply says: “studies have found….” – so it’s not clear which study they are referring to. I think some parents (and professionals) would like to read more detail from the original research paper, and the format of the book doesn’t support this.
If you’re looking for ideas about how to use books (and conversation!) to prepare a child for reading and writing I’m Ready is packed full of them. It’s easy to read, practical and fun.
If you’re in the UK, the book is currently only available directly from Hanen. Hanen hope their UK distributor will be stocking it soon.