Monday, August 15, 2011

Read Well, Think Well - Book Review

Read Well, Think Well
Build Your Child’s Reading, Comprehension, and Critical Thinking Skills

Hal W. Lanse, Ph.D.

While browsing the shelves at my public library, this book caught my attention, and I’m so glad it did! Whether I’m tutoring children or advising parents, this book can help me immensely. If you are a parent or teacher, it might help you, too.

Mr. Lanse has truly done his homework and knows how to read well and think well, and how to teach us to help our children do the same. Even if you have already been doing just that for many years, you may find new insights to ponder and new techniques to try.

I love how he says, “Parents: Your kids are already smart. You just need the techniques to unlock their potential.”

He tells how to find books that are good for your young reader to be able to read alone. He says to pick a page in the middle of a book, have the child “read the page aloud and raise a finger every time she comes to a word she doesn’t know. If there are only one or two unfamiliar words, she will probably be able to read the book on her own with minimal help.” Otherwise, you would want to either read the book with her or wait for her vocabulary to grow.

Are you familiar with “graphic novels”? We used them for some of our history for a student who could read but not very much at a time…and he progressed from there to reading other books with greater word counts. The author of this book says, “Graphic novels are often a necessary step for children who need to build up their reading stamina.”

These are just two of the practical ideas he recommends. He has chapters about comprehension skills; the effect and use of modern technologies; relaxing the brain; ways to build background knowledge; and the value of timelines and drama and nursery rhymes for building memory. He talks about writing to improve reading, and how to effectively use our knowledge of multiple intelligences, as well as how to deal with learning disabilities. And then there are the lists: vocabulary lists, a list of proverbs and sayings, and more.

You may not agree with the author’s every word and that’s okay because this book is for you to read, not to give to your child. But I think you will find yourself nodding more often than not. I think you will come away from each reading with some fresh insights or ideas. I know I did. And that’s after teaching my kids – and other kids too at times - for thirty years…and with reading being my favorite subject to teach. Now - if I could recommend just one teaching handbook to teachers and parents, this would be the one.