3 Magic Words for Reading

Learn 3 words to keep in your back pocket that will help your child become a stronger reader.

By Amy Mascott
Apr 22, 2013



3 Magic Words for Reading

Apr 22, 2013

Reading is tough – there’s no denying that.

Part of our goal as parents and reading teachers is to help our children read fluently and comprehend what they read as easily and naturally as possible.

One way to do this is by inserting three magic words into each and every reading ‘session’ with our kids.

If we say these three magic words during read-alouds – whether kids are reading books, magazines, signs, newspapers, whatever the text may be – then we will be on the road to raising readers who naturally self-monitor while reading.

What are the three magic words?

They are: Are. You. Correct.

In question form, of course: Are you correct?

That’s right. Try it. During a read-aloud, when your child finishes a full page, before he turns to the next one, ask, “Are you correct?” Avoid  a condescending or directive voice, but more in a level, light, straightforward question: Are you correct?

And see what happens.  Even if every word was read correctly, ask anyway. 

Your child may look at you like you’ve grown three heads at first, but then he will (or should!) look back at the page, scan the words, and do a mental ‘re-check’ of what he read. And that’s key.

We want our kids to become better at self-monitoring and self-correcting. These three magic words will get kids on the road to becoming better at both. 

If everything was read correctly and your child turns to you and says, “Yep. I’m correct.” Then woo-hoo! you’re good to go. Say something like, “Okay, awesome. Just wanted to be sure. Carry on.”

But what if you ask, “Are you correct?” and your child says, “YES,” even though he made an error while reading? Then he needs a wee bit more prompting. Say, “Read it again and check closely.”  And if he reads it again incorrectly, he needs even a bit more help, but it’s okay! You can offer it.  Try questions like:

  • “Does it make sense?”
  • “Does it sound right?”
  • “Try to use the picture to help you figure it out.”

See where that gets you. We certainly don’t want to hand everything over to our child on a silver platter and we don’t want reading to become more difficult than it already is.  Rather, we want our readers to be comfortable enough and driven enough to work a bit to construct meaning while they read. And hopefully those three magic words will get us on the right track.

What are your tips for finding reading success? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on Twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

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