Reading, Defined
From Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
READ, v.t. The preterit and pp. read, is pronounced red. [Gr. to say or tell, to flow; a speaker, a rhetorician. The primary sense of read is to speak, to utter, that is, to push, drive or advance. This is also the primary sense of ready, that is, prompt or advancing, quick. L. gratia, the primary sense of which is prompt to favor, advancing towards, free. The elements of these words are the same as those of ride and L. gradior, &c. The sense of reason is secondary, that which is uttered, said or set forth; hence counsel also. See Ready.]
I love the idea presented hear. The primary sense of "read" is identical to that of "ready." What greater analogy to show the vital importance of reading? When we read, we speak, utter, prompt, advance and free. Reading enables individuals to advance an idea and liberate their mind. It is small wonder that cries for freedom so closely followed the translation of the bible into native tongues.

Our definition is broken up into two parts. The first deals with the basic mechanics of reading. It is the basic decoding of the written word into spoken sounds. In order to promote this aspect of reading, we practice phonemic awareness activities, phonics activities and look at the structure of individual words. We learn the rules of the written word. We learn basic strategies for decoding new words, such as breaking it up, looking for smaller words and word parts we recognize and thinking about what makes sense based on the rest of the passage. We do a variety of word building activities to promote this skill.

The second deals with the comprehension and reasoning. We approach every text from three levels. First, it must be decoded. I listen to my daughter read and mostly just help her figure out harder words, encourage her to keep going and praise her when she applies the skills we are practicing. Second, we read for comprehension. I ask simple comprehension questions which are easy to answer directly from the text. These are your simple "who?" "what?" "where?" "when?" questions. Once she has read it successfully and has displayed a good comprehension of the story, we move to reasoning. We compare characters, analyze events, look for themes, judge actions. We think about scripture we have studied and try to make applications.

This obviously is not covered in a single day. We spend one day on decoding, one on comprehension and begin reasoning when that is done. We will spend a week on the selection I have chosen for this. The Principle Approach uses the bible as reader, with other texts as supplementary reading. We do a lot of reading from scripture throughout the day and generally follow this format with each bit we do. These controlled selections do not lend themselves well to the teaching of text structure, however, so I have been choosing one children's book per month to study in depth.

As your child learns to read critically, he has been given the gift of liberty in that he is free to read and think and come to his own conclusions. He will be able to question sources and reason for himself. He will be able to turn to the scripture and read the law and the promise. He will be able to comprehend the Word for himself, without the interpretation of man.

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