GROWING A READER FROM BIRTH: Your Child's Path from Language to Literacy

Diane McGuinness, Author . Norton $24.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-393-05802-4

McGuinness (Why Our Children Don't Read and What We Can Do About It ) points out that being a good reader involves much more than simply decoding words; she claims that the best predictor for becoming a good reader is the development of good language skills during the early years of life. Fortunately, the author notes, there are many ways in which parents can help children lay the groundwork for later reading success, and although about 50% of a child's verbal skill can be attributed to genetics, the other 50 is the result of "shared environment," or what the child learns at home. McGuinness guides parents through the first five years of the child's life, highlighting language milestones and suggesting ways parents can nurture verbal abilities. For instance, parents who engage in an "elaborate" communication style use interactive dialogue, employ descriptive language and encourage the child to participate. Parents who use a "repetitive" style, however, are not setting their child up for reading success; they use impoverished language and question their child repetitively until a desired response is given. The book is not a typical reading primer: McGuinness cautions against such timeworn tools as picture books (they "distract" the child from memorizing a story sequence), rhyming games and preschool (which may benefit neither language nor literacy, she asserts). Parents seeking quick, easy tips won't find them here, but they will find novel suggestions for building a solid literacy groundwork during the prereading years. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-0-393-33239-1
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