How Can We Help Early Readers Succeed? (by Guest Blogger Elita B.)

Read more about the author here. This post is based on the community work and writing that the author has been doing in WR 122 at Portland Community College.  The piece of public writing is loosely based on a research question and research collection the author developed.  The public writing is a chance to use one’s writing to become part of the larger community dialogue about issues in the chosen theme.

The Public Writing

Author’s Note:

Part of my research for this project was volunteering for a local school and trying to come up with a good research subject that I could turn into a research question. I have become highly interested in learning ways to help young children learn to become better readers. After reviewing both popular and scholarly articles related to education and specifically positive ways to engage kids in reading. My letter to the school board of education is related to opportunities to help kids find new and entertaining ways to learn.

The most interesting piece of putting this project together was finding all the available information on teaching kids to read.

 The Letter:

Dear Mr. Paz or other members of the Board of Education,

I am writing to you because I am a parent of a 1st grader who has had difficulty learning to read. To assist with him with this I began volunteering at his school and at one of the other local elementary schools in the area. During my volunteering at both schools I was surprised to see how fearful the kids were about learning to read. I was recently online and found an interesting article about a book club in Georgia which has had wonderful results. I thought this would be a great addition to Oregon’s own school programs.

This book club began in 1992 and has continued to grow. It began with 5th and 6th grade students but was so well received they expanded it to include 2nd grade students. They were also able to partner with a local bookstore. I found this story to be both inspiring and educational. By including younger readers we could expand not only their reading skills but also their comfort level with the material. By doing this we would be giving kids life experience that would show them not only that reading can be fun and creative but also it would help them understand that school and learning doesn’t have to be scary.

Part of this book club included activities where the kids chose tasks to complete. This helped them learn the different “jobs” of the club to included a discussion director, illustrator, travel tracer, literary luminary, connector, vocabulary enricher and an investigator. Each of these jobs helped the kids build their understanding of the language, how to read and write, and their growing use of vocabulary.

Reading scores around the country are showing a steady lack of improvement from year to year. A recent report from Washington showed that reading scores were flat for 2007-2009 and had only improved by 2 points between 2002 and 2009. This is an alarming rate of return. We need to look outside of the box and find new ways to engage our children in learning to read from an early age. Building reading skills should be a main priority by our schools but they are failing in their effort to improve the focus on reading.

One of the best ways to build a good, strong reader is to give them the tools to expand their skills and what better time to do this but at an early age. I would highly suggest this as an afterschool activity for the kids in elementary schools around the Pacific Northwest. What a great opportunity to help our kids gain the building blocks to expanding their education in a fun and interactive way. I would love to be able to speak with you about the possible options for implementing this and look forward to hearing from you.



Elita B.


The Research Question & Collection

ElitaBlogPicMy research question was finding ways to how to help early readers succeed.  Part of my research included reviewing both popular and scholarly sources.

My research question is what is the best way to teach early reading skills to students who may have difficulty with reading concepts. I am still struggling through which way to direct my paper. I would like the focus of my paper to include vocabulary, phonetic awareness and fluency. I am planning to write a letter to the board of education.

Research material:

Educators Reference in Library database.

Houser, Pat. “Don’t tell anyone it’s fun: Georgia children discover the joy of reading and building thinking skills.” Black Issues Book Review Mar.-Apr. 2005: 14. Educators Reference Complete. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

von Duyke, Katherine. “Phonics the Montessori way, Part 2–blending. (Montessori At Home).” Practical Homeschooling Mar.-Apr. 2002: 24. Educators Reference Complete. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Smith, Robin. “A letter to parents.” The Horn Book Magazine Sept.-Oct. 2006: 553+. Educators Reference Complete. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Document URL|A152513439&docType=GALE&role=




  1. Angel

    I really enjoyed reading your submission. I also wrote about the educational realm, but more of high schoolers and their struggle to stay in school. Surprisingly, I found that statistically, a lot of students who had difficulty doing these types of tasks successfully and confidently, such as reading and writing, were the ones that struggled so much in their future education and dropped out.
    I think that the book clubs are extremely important, but for me, 5th and 6th grade seems so late in the game. Some children already know slightly how to read when entering grade school, while others are extremely behind as far as basic learning to start school. One video I watched was about a principle on the East Coast in an elementary school in a lower socioeconomic community, who dealt with the budgeting cuts by cutting janitors, nurses, and other employees that weren’t directly involved in the students education, and kept people such as “reading coaches” instead, who worked directly with these students to make sure that they became better familiar and proficient with reading.
    To me, reading coaches or book clubs are super important, and truly, reading coaches could be provided FOR FREE as long as the community was involved, or the curricuum was changed a little bit so the older students could work with the younger ones.
    Great posts, I hope to see changes like these made in the near future.

    • Elita Bowman

      I agree that these clubs would be more beneficial if they began earlier. I was happy to see that the particlular book club in Georgia did expand it to their 2nd grade students. This seems like a perfect time to bring kids in.

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