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Young Readers and Oral Expression

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My first-grader has been making C's in reading. Her teacher says it's because she doesn't read with expression. How can I help my daughter with this problem?

A: Your daughter is a new reader, and like a new driver, may not yet know all the rules of the road. Just as different traffic signs signal what type of action drivers should take, the different punctuation marks signal what the reader should be doing. Make sure that your daughter knows that she is to pause at a comma, stop at a period, and have her voice change for question and exclamation marks. For fun, color periods red and commas yellow in a selection and have her follow the rules of the road as she reads.

Good oral readers are able to make material meaningful for their listeners. Here are some things that you can try that should help your daughter read with more expression:

  • Explain to your daughter that oral reading is just like talking, so it needs to be done with expression for
  • Have her read material silently before attempting to read it orally.
  • Select books for practicing oral reading that are easy for your child to read so she will have no problem figuring out any of the words and can concentrate on her reading.
  • Have your child read material with lots of conversational passages as they help children develop the
  • Read sentences out loud to model good expression. Then have her read the same sentences.
  • Have your daughter read aloud with you to get an idea of how good oral readers read in phrases.
  • Tape your daughter reading and let her listen to herself. Then reread a section so that she can hear what she needs to do with her voice as she reads.
  • Ask her teacher for additional pointers on how to help your child.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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