Q:

It is absolutely painful to hear my fourth-grader read. He reads slowly, hesitates over words and has absolutely no expression. Because he reads so slowly, he has to spend twice as long on class assignments. Is there any way we can help him to become a faster reader? - Slow Reader

A:

There are many different reasons why children read slowly, from not easily recognizing words to not knowing how words go together in phrases and sentences. No matter what the reason, here are two activities that parents can use to increase their child's reading rate, and they work very well for most elementary- and high-school students:

*Paired Reading: Choose short passages that do not have too many words that are unfamiliar to your child. Rhyming poetry is an excellent choice. Begin by reading a short passage or poem to your child. Then read the material together several times. Finally, have your child read the text to you. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes every day. Be sure to praise your child for doing a good job.

*Echo Reading: Start with material that your child can read easily. Then, once your child's reading begins to improve, move rapidly to material that is on his grade level. Sit your child slightly in front of you so that your voice will be close to his right ear. Read the material out loud with your child. Repeat a sentence several times, if necessary. At first, you should read louder and slightly faster than your child. You or your child should also run a finger under each word as it is read. Read as much material as you can in 10 to 15 minutes.

Be sure to do these reading activities every day, and don't stop once your child starts reading faster. Continue until he can easily read material on his grade level. Be patient, as this will take time. Besides helping him improve his rate, you should see greatly improved comprehension and word-identification skills.