Making Reading a Routine Reality

 Reading with kids

Last month’s blog, Enjoy Reading with your Child, reminded and re-motivated me to put into practice more of what we know about reading. Yet reviewing the Top 10 Tips has given me room for greater reflection and left me with some food for thought. By sharing here, I hope that we might encourage and learn more together.

1. Make books part of your family life – Always have books around so that you and your children are ready to read whenever there’s a chance.

We have a few low bookshelves dedicated to our kids and they’ve always enjoyed being able to access them freely (even if it sometimes drove us to distraction during the early toddler years!). Though we have books around the house, I must admit that we don’t actually read them very often, especially since having our 3rd child last year, and our three- and five-year-old can see that 90% of our reading is on a screen. So, in order to change that, I’m going to make a concerted effort this week to establish my own reading routine that involves sitting down with a book.

2. Join your local library – Get your child a library card. You’ll find the latest videogames, blu-rays and DVDs, plus tons and tons of fantastic books. Allow them to pick their own books, encouraging their own interests.

To be honest, I don’t know if we have a local library here in Malaysia as I’ve not looked into it (yet?), although there are some books shared via our local community hall. Fortunately, we’ve also been given and found plenty of books over the years but I’m nonetheless looking forward to showing Dino Books to my kids this week, too. And, I’m especially excited by the variety of stories from around the world. We always let our children choose what to read for a bedtime story or any other time so I wonder what they will choose next.

3. Match their interests – Help them find the right book – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, poetry, comic books or non-fiction.
On rare occasions when our children haven’t been able to choose, we’ve made suggestions that have almost always been well-received, perhaps because they’re still so young! One thing that has been noticeable, however, is the relative lack of lead characters and role models for girls, although this has been gradually changing over the years. For anyone interested, A Mighty Girl, is a great resource.

4. All reading is good – Don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets. Reading is reading and it is all good.

We encourage our kids to read anything from signs and car registration plates to whatever they notice and ask us about. That said, I think we could still point out and ask them more, as well as play more reading games to develop their letter recognition and phonics skills. Oxford Owl, for example, offers a host of age appropriate ideas.

5. Get comfortable! – Snuggle up somewhere warm and cosy with your child, either in bed, on a beanbag or on the sofa, or make sure they have somewhere comfy when reading alone.

Happily, this usually seems to be an easy and enjoyable one to achieve, though sometimes us parents have trouble staying awake.

6. Ask questions – To keep them interested in the story, ask your child questions as you read such as, ‘What do you think will happen next?’ or ‘Where did we get to last night? Can you remember what had happened already?’

Usually, I’ll ask them about the pictures, e.g. Who do you think that is? Why is he in trouble? What should he do? At the moment, we finish 99% of the books we read in one go, but when we start reading longer ones, the other questions here will definitely prove useful so it’s good to keep them in the back of one’s mind.

7. Read whenever you get the chance – Bring along a book or magazine for any time your child has to wait, such as at a doctor’s surgery.

As my mum did this with me, I’ve done the same with our kids and keep a book with their medical records, another in the baby bag, and with their spare clothes – all good to go. Now I just need to remember to change them from time to time, too!

8. Read again and again – Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. Re-reading helps to build up fluency and confidence.

Like many if not most kids, ours will ask to read something they like again and again (though less often as they’ve gotten a little older, thankfully). To save myself from getting bored after the nth time, in addition to trying different voices and speeds, it can be fun to add and/or change bits, and see how they react. Asking different questions each time has also been interesting and surprising at times.

9. Bedtime stories – Regularly read with your child or children at bedtime. It’s a great way to end the day and to spend valuable time with your child.

For us, we may be out right up to their bedtime at the weekend, meaning that the kids fall asleep in the car on the way home. During the week, I guess that we have bedtime story on 2 nights a week. This is definitely an area that could benefit from commitment and effort to establish a reading routine, and setting myself a concrete goal of 3-4 out of 5 week nights plus Sunday night is the first step to making that a reality. Dino Books can also offer me a ‘Plan B’ on nights where I’m alone with the kids and our one year-old needs prioritizing.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for extra motivation, research by Professors Kalb and Van Ours in 2013 indicates that the effects of routine parental reading can be quite significant, increasing not only reading but other cognitive skills at least up to 10-11 years old. For example:

“Children four to five years old who are read to three to five times a week have the same reading ability as children six months older (who are read to only twice or less a week). Reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to. It was also found that reading to small children has a positive effect on the development of numeracy skills.” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 3rd 2013

The benefits seem to continue for the rest of their lives and, notably, “The results indicate a direct causal effect from reading to children at a young age and their future schooling outcomes regardless of parental income, education level or cultural background” (Kalb and Van Ours, 2013).

10. Rhyme and repetition – Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging your child or children to join in and remember the words.

Luckily, quite a few of the books we have are written in verse, and they are indeed fun and memorable. Songs and nursery rhymes can also provide excellent opportunities, of course, for rhythm, rhyme and repetition.

Over the past month, whilst I felt that I made some progress in reading with my children, it seems mostly due my unconscious mind seeking to follow up on what we know to be important. However, taking conscious action during the next month should further help. So, what’s helped and helping you to make routine reading a reality?

 Philip Shigeo Brown

“SpongeBob May Be Too Speedy For Preschool Brains” – NPR

“Parents may dote on the tragicomic adventures of SpongeBob SquarePants, but researchers say that that the cartoon’s fast-based scenes may make it harder for young children to pay attention and think.

“I would not encourage parents of a 4-year-old boy to have him watch SpongeBob right before he goes in for his kindergarten readiness assessment,” Dimitri Christakis told Shots. He’s a child development specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital who wrote a commentary on the new study, which was just published in the journal Pediatrics.”


Dino Lingo videos do not have cause-efect story lines that are fast paced. So your kids can enjoy optimum paced fun videos that are very easy to understand for all ages.

Is Online Instruction Better than Offline Instruction?

A recent study indicates that  online learning is as effective as, if not more, than traditional face to face instruction. According to a meta-analysis conducted by Barbara Means, Yukie Toyama, Robert Murphy, Marianne Bakia and Karla Jones from the Center for Technology in Learning which analyzed 99 studies by comparing on-line and off-line education between the years of 1996 through 2008, online education simply works just fine.  The results have indicated that in general students perform better when instruction is carried out online. What is more surprising is on-line only condition was sometimes better than blended education method (mixed: combination of online and off-line instruction).This finding becomes more obvious if the learners are adults (college students etc.). The authors have two warnings though: 1-We cannot generalize the findings to K-12 students because of the limited sample size, 2- It is actually quite difficult to do a head to head comparison because online education has different pedagogy, time usage and curriculum structure.

Here are the major findings of the study (pages 15-16)

  • “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.
  • Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
  • Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning.
  • Most of the variations in the way in which different studies implemented online learning did not affect student learning outcomes significantly.
  • The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.
  • Effect sizes were larger for studies in which the online and face-to-face conditions varied in terms of curriculum materials and aspects of instructional approach in addition to the medium of instruction.
  • Blended and purely online learning conditions implemented within a single study generally result in similar student learning outcomes.
  • Elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that students learn in online classes.
  • Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.
  • Providing guidance for learning for groups of students appears less successful than does using such mechanisms with individual learners.”
You can read more here

Doman Glenn: Children are Linguistic Geniuses

DOMAN GLENN Method (also known as Glenn Doman Method)


In most simple terms, Glenn Doman method is showing babies flashcards in certain speed from certain distance in certain word categories.

  • When Doman, Glenn first published his book “teach your baby to read” in 1964 he caused quite a storm. Today, his method is wildly popular all around the world and the internet in inundated with the testimonials of parents who claim that they taught tehir babies reading with Dr. Doman’s method.
  • Doman, Glenn always emphasized that mothers are the best teachers.
  • According to him, baby brains have extreme plasticity, babies can learn as much as they are taught. If their early learning ability cannot be utilized they are likely to have limited learning skills in the future.
  • Glenn Doman maintains that if 1 year old baby can speak, she/he can very easily read or acquire encyclopedic knowledge.
  • It is presumed that, even though there are more than 500,000 thousand words in English language, 3000 of them cover 90% of the books and if a baby knows only 400, he/she can understand 60-70% of a normal writing.

Children are linguistic geniuses

Doman Glenn Method

  1. Only mothers can effectively teach their babies.
  2. Doman method requires to use large cards (a4 or 12′ x4′) .
  3. Words are written on one side and the pictures correspond to those words should be displayed on the other side of these cards
  4. All of the words and picture batches should be in the same topic.
  5. The pictures and the words should not have any background image.
  6. Words should be written very clearly, in big and bold characters
  7. Mothers show these cards to babies in a rather fast pace (e.g. 1 second intervals or 1 second per card)
  8. The cards should be shown to babies not too close and not more than 1 meter distance.
  9. Glenn and Janet Doman warn that the mothers teach their infants only when the infants are happy or in a good mood. This way, learning becomes more fun and the babies develop better attitudes toward the material.
  10. The words have to be common words that the learner already is familiar with.
  11. The Mothers should start with simple words then continue with couplets and then show simple sentences which include the previously taught words and finally very simple children’s books.
  12. The procedure (rapidly showing the images and corresponding words till the child gets bored) should be repeated 20-30 times a week. (Yes, it is a tedious procedure…)
  13. Doman method has also been applied to math teaching as it is presumed that babies can anturally understand quantity differences. When parents teach babies how to read the numbers they show DOTs intead of any other image. Babies see the same dots in different quantitites and can easily different between the amount thus learning the numbers. This is also called DOT method.

Glen Doman Materials can also be found on the net

More than 17 years ago this is what Glenn and Janet Doman wrote

“…..Then hundreds wrote to tell what had happened to their children after they had learned to read. Thousands of mothers bought the book and
taught their babies to read. The book was published in British and Australian editions and in Afrikaans, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, egian, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Norwand Swedish.
Tens of thousands of mothers wrote to tell us of what had happened.
What those mothers reported with delight and pride was that
1. Their babies had easily learned to read;
2. Their babies had loved learning;
3. Mother and baby had increased the degree of love between them (which they reported with much pleasure but no surprise);
4. The amount of respect of mother for child and child for mother had
grown by leaps and bounds (this they reported with much joy and a good deal of surprise);
5. As their children’s ability to read grew, their love of learning grew and so did their abilities in many things.
Today that book is in eighteen languages and more than two million in hard How to Teach Your Baby to Read mothers have bought”
(Glenn & Janet Doman , How to multiply your babies intelligence, 1994, p 4-5)

Most of the books of Glenn Doman were co-authored with Janet Doman, Douglas Doman, Bruce Hagey and Susan Aisen
Although there seems to be thousands of individual testimonials on the internet, According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Glenn Doman method has not currently been supported by scientific data. This is perhaps because most of Doman’s academic work was with the autistic or brain injured children not about healthy children. Additionally, A.A.P. does not accept that children’s motor development skills totally depend on previous development phases. (e.g. Dr. Doman proposes that children who learn reading earlier are likely to outperform their peers in the future)


English lessons for kids