Reading Up: A Literary Strategy

Reading Up: A Literary Strategy


My son loved this book when he was three

Emergent readers are typically children, but they can also be adults, who are just beginning to learn the forms of grammar and written syntax found in literature.

To Read Up in this context means to have someone read something to you that you do not have the ability to read to yourself.

Babies learn how language is put together by listening to the people around them use it. Emergent readers pick up on vocabulary, grammar, structure, and style by listening to people read to them.

The best time to start this process is right after birth! Babies easily learn the difference between speaking and reading.

Parents often tell stories about watching their preverbal child pick up a book or other paper and pretend to be reading it. If you listen, you can tell that their voice patterns when they are “reading” are different from when they are “speaking”.

Reading Up also allows you to model the kinds of behaviors to emergent readers that successful readers do.

Stopping to consider the text
Working out difficult language
Rereading a section if you are not sure what it says
Not continuing if you need more context
Looking up unfamiliar words if you don’t know what they mean

My kids found this intriguing

As emergent readers get older, selecting books that are out of their reading range continues to be important.

As a family, we read aloud at the dinner table, on car trips, around the fireplace, and when we had some time together.

We read Ender’s Game, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Artemis Fowl, The Howliday Inn, 13 Clocks, A Wrinkle In Time, The Most Timid In The Land, Shel Silverstein’s poetry, and many others.

Then, somewhere in the last couple of years of high school, the tables turned, and the kids started reading aloud to us. They had books we hadn’t encountered and they wanted to share them.

These books came from genres we didn’t tend to read. There were phrases we hadn’t heard, turns of slang we didn’t know, and usages of language that were unfamiliar to us. They really enjoyed teaching us what was what.

Reading Up is not about plowing through the text. It is about soaking in the language.

So, here are some ideas about Reading UP.

1. Stop every now and then and ask for predictions.

ex. Wow. What do you think is going to happen to Ramona?

ex. Do you think Bunnicula is really a vampire bunny?

2. Stop and reflect on language that you like or don’t like.

ex. I love that word! Collapsable. I like the way it rolls out of the mouth. Do you have any words that you like to say?

3. Stop and reflect on how the text might make you feel. What associations do you have with the text?

ex. Okay, that was exciting. I loved the way the author surprised us! I always think about visiting my grandmother in Texas when I read that part.

4. Encourage the listener to stop you if they don’t understand a word, by stopping when you get to a word that you struggled with, or that you still have to think about for a second, or that you find interesting because of definition.

ex. So, a Lepidopterist is someone who collects butterflies? Cool.

5. Reading Up should always be an active experience. Use that time to help the emergent reader interact with the text in as many ways as you can!

6. Encourage the emergent reader to read aloud to you when she/he finds something they like.

7. Make reading aloud a part of everyday or as often as you can manage it. This process can be a great bonding experience.

8. Don’t get discouraged if the book you’ve selected isn’t interesting to your audience. You can always stop and start a different one.



9. Ask the reader if there is a subject they want to hear more about.

10. Read things you enjoy! Reading aloud shouldn’t be a chore.

And it shouldn’t be something you only do with small children.

Happy Reading!