Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How To Create Super Readers

I came across a terrific book that the PR firm I work for is promoting, Every Child a Super Reader: 7 Strengths to Open a World of Possible, from Scholastic.  It is an impressive contribution to the materials that circulate in hopes of building literacy skills and a passion for reading amongst elementary school children.

The authors, Pam Allyn, an award-winning literacy advocate and founding director of LitWorld (, and Dr. Ernest Morrell, a professor of English Education and Director of the Institute for Minority and Urban Education, at Teachers College at Columbia University, describe a ‘super reader’ as “a child who enters text with purpose.  Regardless of platform (print or digital) and genre (fiction, informational or poetry), he or she reads that text with deep comprehension and finishes it feeling satisfied, informed, and inspired.  What’s more, the super reader can respond to and expand on the text in conversation and writing and use what she learns from the text to make points and answer questions.”

They have identified seven strengths that educators and parents must nurture in children. This will  provide them with the foundations they need to become super readers.

The seven strengths are:

1.      Belonging - The reader identifies with being a valued, represented member of a larger community.

2.      Curiosity – We want readers to foster a willingness to explore new territory and test new theories.

3.      Friendship – Children need to develop close, trusting relationships and personal connections to others.

4.      Kindness – Kids should show compassion toward others.

5.      Confidence – Young people should think independently and express their ideas with assurance and conviction.

6.      Courage – We want children to possess the strength to do something they know or believe is right, even if it may be difficult and challenging.

7.      Hope – School kids should think optimistically and believe that today’s efforts will yield positive results in the future, for themselves and others.  They should dream a little, too.

Parents and educators should interact with children about what they just read and ask them questions to elicit responses regarding these seven strengths as they relate to the text.  Step one is to value your child and his or her stories and ideas.

Other steps to encourage a super reader include these:

·         Invite your child into a safe and supportive reading environment (find a quiet, cozy, welcoming area).
·         Dedicate daily time for your child to read for pleasure.
·         Read aloud to children.
·         Honor your child’s varied reading choices.
·         Champion reading and express support and love for books.
·         Provide daily access to books and stories in all forms (poem, essay, picture book, chapter book), genres (fiction, non-fiction), and platforms (print or digital).
·         Be a reading role model (show them you like to read).
·         Value your child’s talking about a book and exchanging ideas that relate to what he or she read.
·         Help your child see authors as real people who make real decisions (encourage them to research an author, even reach out to them via social media).

The book builds on 10 key principles for raising super readers, including:  encouraging kids to learn to read by reading interactively, providing them with access to a great variety of texts, and letting them thrive in a collaborative community of readers.

As the parent of a second- and fifth-grader I completely see how their approach would be successful and support it 110%. One thing I would add is that parents should encourage kids to be writers as well as readers.  I would also encourage people to ask kids what they’d change about what they just read or to imagine what they’d do if they were the central character in that story. Another good approach to enhance literacy is to have a child read a book while listening to the audiobook version.

For more information and useful resources, consult:

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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