How-To

Language Arts the Natural Way: Reading

Language Arts the Natural Way: Reading

Most great writers are great readers. That makes sense if you consider that, by reading, an authors’ words and the way they are used are input, and “copied” when we write — albeit with our own words and style. Someone once said that the books I read will make the difference between who I was and who I am now. Likewise, the books we read will help determine the type of writers we will be. Reading, then, is crucial to pursuing language arts the natural way.

Reading is the Backbone of Learning

Learners have to have a place to start, something to work with. Reading is the foundation of learning.

We read to:

  • Develop our vocabulary.
  • Understand how words work.
  • Learn grammar.
  • Learn the mechanics of punctuation, subject/verb agreement, and usage.

Children that are read to very early will likely pick up language skills very early. Likewise, strong and early readers will pick up language arts skills early. Yes, there will be some honing down the road. But reading is a crucial path to developing good writers.

It is also important to remember that learning to read is learning to comprehend. The purpose for reading is comprehending what you are reading — not reciting the words on the page. The two are inseparable. By keeping this close tie (versus creating a “reading” class that focuses on phonics, etc.) children will be more likely to enjoy learning to read.

What to Read

Choosing good literature can be a daunting task. There are book lists galore, public domain works, and anthologies all vying for attention.

Here are a few tips for choosing books when considering using a natural road through language arts:

  • Start early — and it is never too late! Both sentiments apply here. The earlier you start reading to a child, the better. But don’t worry, some adults have become excellent readers very late in life.
  • Start with a book list from a source you usually trust, understanding that no book list is going to fit every family. Use the list as a starting point, adding and subtracting titles as you need to.
  • Don’t worry about reading much.

    The temptation is great to read, or try to read, too much; skipping and skimming over a crowd of books, pamphlets, and papers; cramming the mind with a mass of vague, confused, ill-digested matter, nothing real, nothing clear, nothing truly mastered.

    Old Paths for Young Pilgrims

    Instead read broadly and deeply.

  • Know where your child is and choose books that are slightly above his level.
  • Stick primarily to the classics. Of course, “classics” is rather broad and means different things to different people. But choose those writers whose work has stood the test of time.

    Upon whatever subject you wish to read, ask for the best books, for authors who can tell clearly and fitly what they know and what they want you to know. In this way you will be able to steer clear of a world of books whose forcible feebleness deceives us with the notion that we are getting something, when we are getting nothing — waste of time and thought, and nothing more.

    Old Paths for Young Pilgrims

  • Avoid twaddle. No. You do not need to feed him book candy to get him to read. In the long run this approach typically backfires as a child loses his appetite for quality books. What is your child interested in? Find a quality title about his interest. Be patient, Mom, he’ll get there!

 

Additional Resources

9 Ways to Encourage a Lifelong Reading Habit9 Ways to Encourage a Lifelong Reading Habit
Ideas for avoiding “book candy.”

Book Lists
A collection of sources including a list of book lists.

The Library
Tastes differ, but this our growing collection of books.

 

Enjoy the entire series:

Language Arts the Natural Way