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Reading and Writing: Perfect Together!

By Dr. Felecia Nace, Family and Community Relations Office, New Jersey Department of Education

Take the opportunity to use reading to enhance your child’s writing skills.  As a parent or guardian, you naturally want to help your child become a good writer so that your child will have the ability to communicate in a clear, effective manner.  One simple way to help a child reach this goal is to make as many connections between reading and writing as possible.  For instance, books that your child enjoys reading and that are well-written can provide examples of good writing such as well-written sentences and paragraphs, which you can use as a guide to improve your child’s quality of writing.

Think about your own reading experiences. What attracts you to good writing?   What elements of an author’s writing make you prefer one book or magazine article over another?  Sometimes an author’s, vocabulary (word choice), clarity of writing or creativity can make a huge difference in determining if you or your child will enjoy reading a book or other reading materials.   We are all authors when we choose to communicate in writing.  By the same token, we need to remind children that when they put pen to paper, they too are assuming the role of “author.”

 Like professional authors, children should be mindful of their word choices, the purpose for writing, and clarity among other factors.  Good books, articles and other well-written materials can provide great examples of good writing for children of all ages.  For example, pointing out to young writers the proper use of capitalization and punctuation in books can remind them of specific writing rules.  We need to help children make these connections.

3 Easy Ways to Make Reading and Writing Connections:

  1.  Start with your child’s favorite book(s).   Ask questions like:  A) What did you like about your favorite book/story?  B) What made the story easy to understand?  These types of questions create an opportunity to talk to your child about the importance of writing in a clear manner, placing story events in the proper order, creating an interesting introduction, a well developed middle, and ending.

  2. Ask your child to identify their favorite sentences in a story.  Ask what they found interesting, humorous, or what he/she simply liked about a particular sentence.   Perhaps the vocabulary enhanced the sentence, or it could be that a particular sentence helped your child connect with the joy or sadness of a character.  Your child may express a variety of reasons to you.  This exercise creates an opportunity to talk to your child about their own writing style and how his/her word choices, like those in a book, can create a feeling or tone.

  3. Discuss sentence structure with your child.  For example, point out the different ways an author begins each sentence.  This will help children understand that each sentence should not begin using the same words.   As children grow, their writing should become more sophisticated.  Books can provide examples of how to create longer sentences, how to correctly use vocabulary, and how to use figurative language in their own writing.

This approach can lead to fun educational family discussions which can take place on a regular basis.  The conversations could focus on one or two good sentences in a book or an article.  The amount and sophistication of the sentences that you decide to discuss with your child will depend on their academic level and age.  If done a few times a week, you could awaken the author in your child.