All reading material should stand three tests.
1. Will it increase the childís desire to read?
2. Does it make an appropriate demand for good reading habits and good taste?
3. Does it have an intrinsic value in the subject matter which it presents, or in the emotions which it is capable of arousing in children?
Silent reading should have the first place in the supplementary reading. Some one has said, "Silent reading is the agency which enables the child to look through the words to the thought in the same way that one looks through a clean window glass to the objects beyond."
Silent reading is the only way to teach rapid reading, because a child is not hindered by the agencies he uses when reading aloud. When the child acquires facility in word-recognition he is likely to read aloud too rapidly. It also is an aid in discipline; it helps the teacher to save her voice for a time when it is more necessary to talk; it makes an excellent medium of communication. It is now generally conceded that the more a teacher talks the more she must talk and the less is her power in the schoolroom.
The following examples show how silent reading may be used at a very early stage:
I. This lesson can be given for a class who are to leave the seats and go to the front of the room for a lesson. The teacher writes:
2. Drum, George. (George runs to the front of the room and gets the drum.)
3. March! (When teacher puts in the punctuation, George takes the mark as a signal to beat the drum and the pupils begin to move.)
When the pupils have reached their destination George puts the drum away.
The teacher writes, Thank you, George.
George says, "Youíre welcome, Miss—."
II. For morning work.
The teacher writes, Good morning, children.
(Pupils rise and say, "Good morning, Miss—.")
The teacher writes, Please close the door, May. When May returns teacher has written, Thank you, May.
May replies, "Youíre welcome, Miss—."
III. Just before the books are used in a reading lesson.
The teacher writes, Please pass the books, James. Or if a guest comes in, You may give your book to our guest, Edith.
IV. Just before dismissing in the afternoon the teacher writes:
Please pass the basket, May.
Thank you, May.
Good night, children.
Pupils rise and say, "Good night, Miss—."
V. When distributing materials, the teacher writes:
1. Helpers, stand! (Pupils who are appointed as helpers stand and take materials to be distributed.)
VI. In singing time.
1. Letís have a concert. You may sing, James.
2. Clap. (Pupils clap when James has finished.)
3. You may sing, Elizabeth. When Elizabeth finishes the teacher points to the word clap.
Make the class work lively by originality in the introduction of new devices, in word drill, and in lessons generally, that the exercises may not become monotonous. Require the sentences of the lessons to be acted whenever possible in beginning work.
Sample Lessons in Silent Reading
I. Let us play "The Little Red Hen." You may be the hen, Mary. You may be the pig, Jack. You may be the cat, Alice. You may be the dog, Ben.
II. We are going to play "The Boy and the Goat." You may be the boy, Frank. John, you may be the goat. You may be the rabbit, Bert. Grace may be the squirrel. William may be the fox. Alice, you may be the bee.
There are so many practical uses for silent sentence reading that it is unnecessary to have the children do absurd things just for the sake of having them read and act. For instance, rather than ask a child merely to "Run to the door," write, "Please close the door," or "Please open the door."
Books for Supplementary Reading
Books for supplementary reading should be selected with great care. The teacher should look them through deliberately, asking: 1. Will they be interesting to the children?
2. Will they create in the child a desire to read?
3. Do they lead to consecutive thinking or are they disconnected in thought?
4. Will they enrich the lives of these children?
5. Would the material be considered acceptable reading for children outside of school?
Teaching the Child to Copy or Write the Words
1. Write a known word on the blackboard.
2. Have the class watch you trace the word with a pointer.
3. Have the child hold up his pencil and think of it as long enough to reach the board. Let him trace with the teacher.
4. Pupils trace the form with the pencil in the air without help.
5. Cover up the word. Pupils trace in the air.
6. Ask them if they can think the word. (It is covered.)
7. If they cannot form a mental picture of the word, repeat these steps until they can.
8. When they can see the word mentally, erase the word and let them write from this mental image.
9. Teach other new words in the same way. Always requiring the pupil to write from the image.
10. Repeat until the pupil uses the process mechanically for all new and old words.
Drill Upon the Words
1. Reserve a place upon the board to list words as fast as learned.
2. Review the list by skipping about as part of each dayís lesson.
3. Place words in all possible combinations and drill until the recognition of words is instantaneous.