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My child is a good reader, but seems stuck where she is. Any tips?

(17 Posts)
Campaspe Thu 03-Apr-14 20:04:24

DD is 7, and is year 2. She reads lime books, and her teacher tells me that her reading ability is well above average. So obviously, that's good. DD loves books and I think can read reasonably fluently. However, one thing bothers me about her reading. DD would still struggle to read a whole chapter book, and when she reads for pleasure, she picks picture books or non-fiction books with small, easily digestible paragraphs. Even something like Rainbow Magic Fairy books would feel like a lot of effort. Is this because although she is a good enough reader, her reading skills are not yet so automatic as to make reading longer books a pleasure?

I'm a bit alarmed by the number of 7 year olds I read about on here who are zooming through Harry Potter, Roald Dahl etc. Also, as we share books of increasing complexity, the vocabulary gets more difficult. Tonight, I had to explain the following in one chapter of DD's lime book:
lying low

I kind of feel that her lack of understanding of such words is hindering her from progressing. We talk about what each one means, but there are so many!

How can DD be so near to being a free reader (according to her teacher), and yet not be reading chapter books with ease? Given that DD can read basic stuff, how do I help her make this final jump into being able to read just about anything (as long as it's age-appropriate, of course)? Will that skill simply come?

redskyatnight Thu 03-Apr-14 20:20:29

There is a big jump from lime level to Harry Potter and Roald Dahl!!

She sounds like my DS - he was a good reader, but he had to work at it, so generally he chose not to. The best thing we did was just to let him go at it at his own pace - he kept reading the school books but we didn't force him to read anything that he didn't want to at home - so now suggesting chapter books to him on the basis he "should" be able to read them.

In Y3, quite a few of his class started on Harry Potter, so he read through the early ones (some struggling). Then he went back to the easier stuff.

So in answer to your question, I think it really will just come - she has the basic skills already.

CecilyP Thu 03-Apr-14 20:38:44

Your DD sounds normal for a child of her age; doing well, but normal. They can't just jump from reading scheme level books and having the vocabulary of a 7 year old, to reading anything and knowing what every word means. It is a gradual process; there are no shortcuts to building vocabulary, or having the stamina to reading chapter books. I am sure the majority of 7 year olds are not reading Harry Potter unaided.

proudmama72 Thu 03-Apr-14 20:45:31

Don't believe every parent who tells you their kid can read Harry Potter when they're 7. Big difference between 7 and 8 - huge. Did they pass a reading comprehension test on it?

I'd say it's a good sign she doesn't know what 'tobacco' means.

mummy1973 Thu 03-Apr-14 20:59:57

Keep reading to her, see you reading and instill a love of books. It really doesn't matter what she reads as long as choosing and looking at books is FUN.

diamondage Thu 03-Apr-14 21:46:31

Not sure what you'll make of this but I've found the ipad to be hugely beneficial.

DD would find reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in book format hard work due to the size of the text. In fact the amount of pages alone would put her off.

Not on the ipad. I discovered this accidently through adding a few chapter books onto the ipad to read to her and then her taking it off me to read to herself because you can change the text size to really large. Not only that but you can't see the size of the book.

Finally and critically you can highlight any word and get a definition of it. It's not perfect (you won't find snozzcumber wink) but you'll find most words and there's nothing like seeing a DC find the process of learning new vocabulary within their own control. The only down side to the definition is that it's in tiny text, however the definitions are usually quite short.

I'm sure any e-reader will do the job, my Kobo does the same things too. You can get a whole range of children's books now (it's really come on in the last 6 months choice wise). Not only that but you can even get classics for free!

lalasmum17 Thu 03-Apr-14 22:29:33

Just think back to when you've had a busy, hectic day. Do you roll up your sleeves and think "oh I've had a busy day, but why don't I have a go at learning a new language" or do you slump into a sofa after the kids are in bed and find something familiar and relaxing to do?

The transition from "scheme books" to chapter books is a big one. Pictures, if they are there at all, tend to be line drawings (not pretty colour plates). Font sizes, and even choice of font, change and this phases children. We had a big tantrum about speech marks, from memory.

Your absolute priority is to help your child to love reading. If they need a lot of reassurance don't push them to try books they might find difficult unless you have planned in enough "parent time" to encourage and support them.

I think it is great that you are talking about tricky words together. My daughter reads quite fluently but I do have to check she understands what she is reading (and that encourages her to ask me or complain about complicated sentences if she is reading to herself). I suspect some 7 or 8 year olds who "just read in their heads" don't get that level of support.

I imagine that you still read bedtime stories, probably from "harder books with chapters". If we'd not had a busy day I would engineer an earlier bedtime and suggest DD and I both read the book downstairs on the sofa (so I would read a couple of pages, then she'd do a page...then I'd finish the chapter). That would be a good way to tell how far to push things.

People frequent Mumsnet for all sorts of reasons.

Campaspe Fri 04-Apr-14 08:08:37

Thanks for your reassuring comments. In many ways, I know I am lucky with DD, as she can read and does love books. It's good to hear that she will continue to improve.

zirca Fri 04-Apr-14 08:13:30

Lime is good for her age. As far as I remember, the Rainbow Magic Fairies books were a couple of book bands higher up in our school, so it's not surprising she can't read those. Let her carry on at the correct level for her, explaining words as you go, and she will continue to achieve and progress. You have nothing to worry about!

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 04-Apr-14 09:23:22

There are a lot of books which are around lime level so I would get her trying some of them. Rainbow fairies are lime however having said that some are a lot easier to read than others and some are a lot shorter than others. the original 7 seem to be the easiest, (the colour fairies) but as they are all written by different people the language and sentence structure in them does vary quite a bit.

if she likes shorter books with colour pictures then you could try the Usborne Young Reading Series one (Princess and the Pea, Stories of Fairies/Mermaids, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and so on), Laura's star and the New Teacher/special pony/friends forever/the sleepover, Lighthouse Keeper books have now been published in an early reader style format.

perhaps try and get hold of some of those, then when she feels a bit more confident about tackling a slightly longer book she can move on to try the next lot of books.

DD used to keep asking us words all the time and some of the ones she was coming across I was a bit stumped by (I have always been useless with English) so we were looking them up in junior dictionary and now she has started to look them up herself. You would need a dictionary with enough words in it though so we have one which is aimed at something like 7-9 year olds (think it is a collins one, can't quite remember)

givemeaclue Fri 04-Apr-14 09:31:51

My dd is yr 1 lime, lives the rainbow fairies etc and reads them voraciously. That said, there are always words in the book she doesn't know and we have a childrens dictionary available and she looks up words, asks me or we look them up together. We also read shorter books and every other day we read non fiction. Nothing wrong with unfamiliar words they extend vocabulary.
It sounds like your dd is not that interested in getting to the end of the story, the rainbow books I find very Repetitive, they wouldn't motivate me to get to the end. Try the library or book shop for shorter books with more story line and encourage her to understand that it may take a week to read a chapter book, a chapter a day. Intersperse it with other things so it doesn't feel like a chore.
Ronald Dahl and Harry potter are way way more advanced I wouldn't think about those yet!
Online books or kindle also worth a try.

pointythings Fri 04-Apr-14 09:32:22

Your DD sounds like a great reader, and the fact that she doesn't know the meaning of some words is really not anything to be alarmed about. I would imagine Roald Dahl to be well above Lime level, and MN children are, shall we say, not very representative? wink

FWIW I still read to my DDs every day - they are 11 and 13. We are working our way through Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, and it is not unusual for them to ask what particular words mean - yesterday's was 'eldritch'. Reading out loud to your DD is a great way to add to their vocabulary, it'll come.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 04-Apr-14 09:47:03

I don't think many 7 year olds read Dahl. It's just that those parent whose kids do read Dahl go on about it (especially online!). What about some easier Dick King Smith books like the Sophie ones. They are a good read but have cute pictures etc.

LiegeAndLief Fri 04-Apr-14 09:57:13

My ds is also 7 but in Y3. He was a "free reader" ( although I think this means different things in different schools!) by the last term of Y2 and reads fluently, but to the best of my knowledge has never read a chapter book to himself for pleasure. He just doesn't want to do it. Spends hours reading football books though...

So I read to him. We've just finished the Narnia books and have done the Hobbit, thinking about starting Harry Potter. We can discuss what's going on in the story and what all the difficult words or turns of phrase or even concepts he hasn't come across mean. By doing this I realised just how difficult it would have been for him to follow a book at this level by himself, but he really enjoys it with me.

I suggest you keep reading to her and talking to her about what you are reading, which will probably really help her understanding.

pointythings Fri 04-Apr-14 10:00:58

My DDs were past the Rainbow Fairies by age 7 for which I was truly thankful but only read the simplest Roald Dahl - think Esio Trot and The Twits. Mostly they were into The Worst Witch at that age, and Enid Blyton's Naughtiest Girl series. They always loved reading though, and I don't think that's something you can force.

They both did mad leaps in their reading at around 8-9 and read Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series, Harry Potter, and stopped being put off by long books in general. I think it's a developmental thing.

PastSellByDate Fri 04-Apr-14 10:45:10


At 7, the issue may be that your child still enjoys illustrated books. I've posted elsewhere ( with a list of book suggestions for ages 5 - 8.

I certainly found with DD1 - she really resisted books that were >50% pure text - she wanted to have illustrations on most pages. Eventually that wasn't such an issue, but learning to visualise what you're reading is a skill and at some point children learn to lose themselves in a good story - but it isn't always instantaneous.

Right now you need to hunt out books that can form a bridge between conventional children's chapter books (e.g. Roald Dawl, Cressida Cowell, etc...) and conventional big print illustrated children's books (The Gruffalo/ Aliens love underpants/ etc...).

PastSellByDate Fri 04-Apr-14 10:47:29

Oh just to say - if your DC likes the Romans in Britain in general - Roodica the Rude (has illustrations but is a chapter book) (meant for ages 5 - 8) - is a nice read. - Roodica the Rude & the Famous Flea Trick is the first in the series.

Winnie the Witch books (also illustrated but in chapter layout) - also good reads.

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