3 Must-Read Books for Every Child’s Reading List

14331863909_d36505c11a_hNeed some reading ideas? Before you head to the library, check out some of the best children’s books in this guest post by New Milford, NJ tutor Matthew H...


Children’s books are a great way to establish good habits that kids will take with them throughout their lives. Reading not only helps develop strong vocabulary, but also makes it easier to learn new information and retain already existing material. Finding the right book for your child may seem like a difficult process because of factors like age, difficulty levels, genres, and interests, but some stories are just plain good. Below is a list of some of the best children’s books that are worth reading, even more than once.

“Matilda” by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is a genius storyteller and one of the great children’s authors. Many of his books are beloved by children and adults, such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Witches”. What makes “Matilda” the Dahl book to make this list is a bunch of unique qualities that adds to its timelessness. For starters, like all of Dahl’s stories, the book is filled with some truly memorable characters. Ranging from the bizarre and grotesque to the sweet and cuddly, you will find people to love and others you love to hate. Besides the somewhat magical title character, who is a great role model for both boys and girls, Mrs. Trunchbull is a great villain that readers will be captivated by. Noteworthy is one of the book’s themes of reading, so it reinforces the idea of reading as a tool that brings about great change and power. It was also recently turned into a Broadway musical, so along with the film version and books on tape, you have a whole collection of Matilda to supplement the reading experience.

Louis Sachar’s Wayside School series

The Wayside School books are a hilarious collection of books that adults can find just as amusing as children do. Louis Sachar is no stranger to the children’s fiction genre, with his novel “Holes” having two sequels as well as having been made into a Disney film by the same name. The Wayside series consists of five books that delve into the mysterious, magical, and wacky nature of the eponymous grade school. Primarily following the exploits of Mrs. Jewls’ class, these absurdist novels have a charm that is so distinct from anything else written, particularly for children. Imagine the television program “Adventure Time” mixing with “Zoo Story” and finally blending with “The Magic School Bus”. What’s great is that while three of the books follow a standard chapter book experience, although with high levels of critical thinking, humor, and abstract concepts, two of the series’ books are largely math and logic puzzles intertwined with related stories from the main characters. Thus, readers get a truly well-rounded educational experience that incorporates high-level thinking, comedy, and math. You might learn something from this just as much as your own children do!

“The Legend of Pearl Cave” by David Akseizer

David Akseizer is a new author who just released his first book. While “The Legend of Pearl Cave” may not have the same legacy as anything written by Roald Dahl or Louis Sachar, it’s a great read for 8-12 year-olds, especially those who are on the shy side. The book’s main character is bullied at school, which is difficult for most children in and of itself, but factor in that both of his parents died when he was young and that he has been raised by his grandfather, and you have a very trying childhood. What’s so good about this book, though, is that it never gets to be too heavy or depressing, and in fact inspires kids to find the courage within themselves to overcome whatever problems they face in life. There’s obviously a huge magical action/adventure component to the story, yet the characters are so relatable, you’ll find yourself completely empathizing with mystical creatures. With the author’s light touch, he juxtaposes many opposing ideas, such as humor and tragedy, fantasy and reality, and so on. It’s an excellent read for boys and girls, particularly those who might need a little push to break out of their shell.

There are so many different children’s books out there that are waiting to be read. Your children may have preferences and genres they gravitate toward, which is totally fine. The idea is to get kids reading, so if that means mainly sports books for your athlete or mystery novels for the budding detective, then so be it. The books listed above are all very distinct from one another, yet share something in common: the ability to get kids who might not normally be a reader interested in the unique stories. Each  is great because they impart life lessons that your children will take with them forever. And that’s what reading is all about.

MatthewHMatthew H. teaches a variety of subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ. He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here! 



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign UpPhoto by anastasia.alen

5 Things Every Book Lover Can Relate To

Always have your nose in a book? Here, New York, NY tutor Lauren P. has rounded up a list of some familiar feelings most book lovers will relate to: 

1. The only time you truly feel regret is when you find yourself waiting in line or on public transportation without a book. A unique type of anxiety overwhelms you in those situations. The grocery store, airport security, train, or even being on hold on the phone are unbearable without a book to fill the time. The same feeling occurs when you have just finished a book during your outing and realize you forgot to bring a spare. Normally, if you have fewer than 50 pages left, you carry the next choice in your library to begin immediately. Otherwise, you find yourself reading about the author or flipping back to page one again.

2. You are not sure every person in this whole vast world has just one soul mate, but you know what might convince you. The only way you could believe someone was your one-and-only soul mate would be if moments after meeting, they happened to mention their favorite line from their favorite book, and it happened to be the very same line and the very same book that left lasting impressions on your own life. How could you not spend eternity discussing the social repercussions and perspective-altering epiphanies inspired by your shared readings?

3. You are completely and totally against Kindles. Why? There are several reasons.

First, you do not want your children or grandchildren to think about books the way you think about vinyl records. You do not want to have to explain to them what a bookmark or dog-eared page is. How could you relate to your own family members if such a world existed?

Second, you know the books you’ve read have made you who you are. You once again have your future, maybe-not-yet-existent family in mind, and you feel very strongly about sharing your books with them. You envision them scanning your bookshelf and spotting your favorite novel, pulling it off the shelf and being just as engrossed as you were. You do not envision this happening in a Kindle library.

Third, how would decorate your home without choosing your favorite books to stack on your bedside table, next to your couch, under the coffee table, on top of your refrigerator, and next to your television?

4. You tie all names in books back to real life. You cannot help but compare real people with their namesakes in your favorite novels. And every time you read a new book, you make a mental note whether any of the character’s names would be perfect for your future child, grandchild, or pet. You still hold out hope that you will find the perfect name in the pages of your favorite book.

5. Any ideal day, no matter the season or occasion, involves books. Your ideal vacation is spending a week lounging on the beach reading — you really do not want to go on that six-hour fishing charter or historic tour. You get anxiety for every moment that you are not enjoying the pure bliss of outdoor reading in the perfect combination of sunshine and breeze. Conversely, your ideal rainy or snowy day — that you sometimes feel guilty about fantasizing about on a beautiful summer weekend — is to spend all day under a blanket, next to a window, reading something cover to cover.

Most avid book lovers can relate to the above fantasies. A significant part of who you are is a result of the lessons, epiphanies, and knowledge gained through your extensive reading. Your view of the world, and your plans for the present and future, are always influenced by books.

LaurenPLauren tutors in various subjects in New York, NY. She has her Master’s Degree in Education (with a concentration in students with learning disabilities), and is a certified NYC Special Education teacher. Learn more about Lauren here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign UpPhoto by Abee5

The Music of Reading: How to Help Your Struggling Reader

reading skills

Is your child struggling with his or her reading skills? Here are some helpful tips from Brick, NJ tutor Elizabeth C. to incorporate music with reading…


Does your child know all the lyrics and melodies to their favorite songs yet can’t read a simple sentence? Is your child the one dancing in front of the television or computer copying the latest dance moves from a pop video yet can’t read a grade level book? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you have a “struggling reader.” If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you also have a musical learner.

Musically inclined children have a natural aptitude for rhythm and tone. These children also have strong audio discrimination skills that help them understand and retain what they hear (hence the ability to rock out to their favorite music). These skills, when recognized, can be utilized to foster reading development and written language fluency.

As a reading specialist and a piano teacher, I have encountered numerous students with these characteristics. Unfortunately, reading in our schools is not often presented as a musical skill, but a passive memorization of phonemic sounds and blends made into words that when combined make sentences that tell a story, share ideas, or give information. However, if we break down reading skills to a musical form, there are sounds (phonics), beats to words (syllables), rhythm of sentences (phrasing), and tone (expression/voice).

If you have a musical learner, by all means do everything you can to foster this gift. You have been blessed with a creative mind. Instrumental or vocal lessons are a great way to develop your child’s natural talents and expand their learning in both math and reading.

If your musical child is struggling to read, there are things that you can do to insure that your child’s reading experience is both musical and magical. The following suggestions are used almost daily within my classroom to reach those talented souls that have “rhythm and soul.”

When learning new words or sounds, have your child “sing” the material using a genre (e.g. opera, country style, hip-hop, rap, etc.). When my students learn their new words and sentences their favorite style is “heavy metal” (head banging and all!).
When learning new words, have your child tap their foot or snap their fingers for the individual sounds for blending. This provides rhythmic context for word reading.
For larger words you can have students segment the word by syllables. Have your child open one palm and make a fist with the other. To count how many “beats” (syllables) a word has you “beat the drum” while saying the syllables of the word. For example: personality = per (beat) son (beat) al (beat) it (beat) y (beat). Then ask your child how many beats are in the word. This skill teaches students to break larger words into parts, making it easier to read.
Sing your sentences!
Give your child the lyrics to their favorite songs and have them read and sing along. This creates the visual component of their audio learning and puts two and two together.
Last but not least, speak with your child’s teacher about your students’ strengths and ask him/her to provide musically based reading activities. You may also inquire if your district has specialized reading programs like Wilson Reading® that utilize rhythmic instruction with kinesthetic and spatial related activities.

The musical learner is a gifted learner. When educators and parents tap into this natural gift the learning can be enhanced and last a lifetime. The struggling reader can become fluent in reading text and reading music. When these skills come together the sky is the limit!

ElizabethCElizabeth C. teaches music theory and piano lessons in Brick, NJ. She is a state-certified teacher with extensive experience working with children of all ages, including individuals with special needs. Learn more about Elizabeth here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign UpPhoto by US Department of Education

Speed Reading – Can it Really Be Done?


Want to learn how to read faster? Tempted by all the promises of speed reading programs and classes? Find out if there’s truth behind the strategies in this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI teacher Elaina R


Imagine a library full of frantic-looking students, their eyes darting back and forth as they flip through textbooks. These students are attempting the controversial art of speed reading. Unfortunately, many of these students will probably find that they remember very little of the information they are so busily scanning.

This begs the question: do these strategies for learning how to read faster really work? Or is it a fantasy thought up by busy students? Let’s explore the concept of speed reading, whether or not it works, and what might work better.

What is Speed Reading?

Speed reading involves quickly glancing through text. The goal of this type of reading is not to absorb every word. Instead, readers want to quickly understand the gist of the text. They want to be able to regurgitate important themes and summarize the text, even if they miss the details.

As you can imagine, speed reading only works in certain situations. Unfortunately, reading a textbook isn’t one of those situations. There are certain things you cannot scan through with good results.

Speed reading is best for simple reading, such as:
• Mainstream news articles
• Advertising emails and letters

Speed reading is bad for complex reading, such as:
• Textbooks
• Scientific articles
• Literature

Speed Reading Techniques

For lighter reading, here are some tried-and-true techniques that can help you glean the overall themes quickly. Although these techniques probably won’t help you read Chaucer any faster, they might help you clear your inbox or read the news in less time.

  • The glance-over: Look over chunks of text a few lines at a time, picking out important elements (such as nouns and numbers) as you go.
  • The diagonal: Cut a diagonal through each paragraph with your eyes, searching for these important key elements.
  • Just read faster: Look at each line individually, but at a very rapid pace.

Better Than Speed Reading

If you are tempted to try speed reading in an academic setting (you forgot to study for the big test, for example), know that you aren’t going to learn how to read faster in one night. Instead, here are a few techniques that may be more useful to you:

  • Read just a hair faster: Instead of attempting to read at lightning speed, go for just a slightly brisker pace than usual. Don’t go overboard – just be conscious of your speed and, while still reading and processing each word, see if you can handle a few more words per minute.
  • Chapter summaries: Many textbooks come equipped with summaries at the end of each chapter or section. Others have key words grouped at the ends of chapters. Use these! If you have to study a whole textbook in one night, read all of the summaries and look up any specific topics that are confusing.
  • Headings and tables of contents: You can also go through textbooks and look just at the headings and subheadings. Alternately, take a gander at the table of contents. Use this as a guide to help you revisit (and properly read!) the hardest sections.
  • Study buddies: Get together with classmates, compare notes, and test each other. If you don’t know where to start, try randomly flipping to a page in the book and asking each other questions from it. If one section is no problem, move on to the next one.

This goes without saying, but the best way to get to know the material is to actually read it. Learn how to manage your time so that you can complete assigned readings, take notes, and really absorb the material before crunch time. Not only is a natural reading pace more effective, it can also be fun. If you have trouble managing your time and studying well, consider hiring a tutor to help you hone these skills.

ElainaElaina R. is a writer, editor, singer, and voice teacher based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her book Slaying Your Admissions Essay Dragon shows how to write application essays that are actually fun to read. Elaina has served as an editor for several notable books as well, including NFL great Adrian Peterson’s autobiography Don’t Dis My Abilities. Learn more about Elaina here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign UpPhoto by RLHyde

The Benefits of Reading Aloud With Your Child (and How to Get the Most Out of It)


How important is reading aloud to children? Here, Chicago tutor Galen B. reviews the benefits and some helpful tips… 

Whether your child is not yet talking or is working on chapter books, reading aloud with her is a valuable exercise. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for building knowledge and eventual success.”1 It introduces vocabulary and word-sound association, which builds the foundation for literacy. It also creates excitement about books, which is essential for developing an avid reader. Finally, reading aloud builds an understanding of how books work and models fluency, which are essential for reading comprehension. Follow these tips to get the most out of your reading experience.

1. Build excitement about books. A child who is excited about books is more likely to choose to read on her own. Ask your child about his favorite page or character, and why he chose it. Be willing to read a beloved book over and over. Find other books by that author or illustrator, and learn about him or her online. Visit your local library together, and build your own library at home—just make sure that it’s low enough for your child to reach!

2. Expand vocabulary. The more words a child hears, the more words she will know. Choose books that have challenging vocabulary to introduce her to new words in context, and read books multiple times to reinforce the vocabulary. Move beyond the words provided by talking with your child about what’s happening in the pictures or how the characters are feeling, and guessing what will happen next. This will help your child learn vocabulary for emotions, describe what she sees, and make inferences.

3. Focus on the text. Familiarizing your child with printed text is important for beginning literacy. Alphabet books are a good place to start, but there’s no need to stop there. Notice the letters in your child’s name, or pick a letter of the day and find words that start with or include it. Books with repetition are especially helpful for early learners. Point to each word as you read, and notice repeating patterns.

4. Learn letter sounds. A child doesn’t have to know her letters before she starts playing with sounds. Point to objects in the illustrations that start with a certain sound (“I see something that starts with /b/… it’s a bunny! Do you see something that starts with /s/?”). Read books with alliteration, and emphasize the beginning sound in each word. Read rhyming books, and let your child finish the line (“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in _____.”) Help your child connect letters and sounds by picking one word for each letter and referencing it often (D for dog, T for truck, G for gorilla, etc.).

5. Talk about the plot. Make guesses about what will happen next, talk about the book’s problem and solution, and have your child “read” the book to you using the pictures. Along with building vocabulary and interest, these exercises will help your child understand how books work and help him when he writes his own stories.

6. Build reading fluency. Even if your child is putting words together, she may not read fluently. Model fluent reading by reading aloud, and then let your child read a familiar book back to you. By listening and repeating what she hears, your child will learn how fluent reading sounds and become a more confident reader. Reading fluency helps build comprehension, which allows your child to see past the printed word and into the story.

It’s never too early or too late to read aloud with your child. The more words an infant hears, the wider his vocabulary will be in preschool, and the earlier he engages with books, the more he will see them as friends later. The benefits of reading aloud to children don’t stop when they can read of their own, either. Reading together is fun and shows that you appreciate books. Keep these reading tips in mind and make reading aloud part of your everyday routine, and your child will be reading before you know it!

1. Richard C. Anderson, Elfrieda H. Hiebert, Judith A. Scott, and Ian A. G. Wilkinson, Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading, U. S. Department of Education (Champaign-Urbana, IL: Center for the Study of Reading, 1985), p. 23.

GalenBGalen B. tutors in a variety of subjects in Chicago, IL, as well as online. She has four years of experience teaching elementary Spanish, two years of experience teaching ESL, and one year of experience teaching reading and writing to K-12 students. Learn more about Galen here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign UpPhoto by lynnefeatherstone

5 Inspiring Books to Read for a More Creative Summer

Summer is the perfect time to get lost in a good book. Why not choose a book that will help  you see the world in a new way and revitalize your creative spirit? Whether you’re packing a book in your beach bag or toting an e-reader in your carry-on, these 5 good summer books are guaranteed to pack inspiration and creativity into the dog days of summer!

1. On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes

on looking

Sometimes the best way to awaken your creative side is by looking at familiar things in a different way. In this good summer book, author Alexandra Horowitz takes the same walk around a city block eleven times, each time bringing with her another person who adds their perspective to illuminate what Horowitz herself is missing when she takes the walk alone. With companions ranging from a geologist or a sociologist to a dog or a child, Horowitz experiences an incredible range of perspectives. Take a walk with this book and find a fresh way to look at the world around you.

2. Letters to a Young Poet

letters to a young poet

In 1902, a young Austrian torn between joining the army or becoming a poet wrote a letter to his favorite poet and hero, Rainer Maria Rilke, seeking guidance and feedback on his poetry.  In an incredible turn of events, Rilke actually wrote back, and this collection of ten letters from the poet form a slim yet incredibly moving volume filled with ideas about life, art, and the relationship between the two. Rilke encourages you to find your own inner voice and to follow your intuition in the creative process.

3. The Writing Life

the writing life

Annie Dillard’s lovely guide to The Writing Life deals frankly with the uncertainty and pain involved in doing creative work. Dillard dives into the nitty-gritty of writing, exposing the commitment and bravery that true creativity requires. The Writing Life is a fine companion for any reader who is struggling with doubts about their work or abilities. This book will inspire you to keep working on your art, even through difficult times.

4. Effortless Mastery

effortless mastery

Have you ever felt like you were reaching a plateau in your work? In this good summer book, author Kenny Werner shares his experience with a creative plateau as a jazz pianist. Werner provides examples of ways to change your thinking and get back to the roots of what you love about what you do. In creative work, passion is key, so use this book to help get back into the joy of playing music, writing, dancing, or however else you express yourself.

5. The Book of Disquiet


For anyone who has difficulty balancing their creative passions with the demands of work and life, Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet can be quite reassuring, as a reminder that you do not struggle alone. Composed of short fragments written from the point of view of a struggling writer working as a clerk in Lisbon, you can easily dip into this book when you have a spare moment to reflect. Pessoa writes about everything from dream imagery and the creative process to human nature and poetry. It’s also very beautifully written, and the language might just inspire you to create something of your own to break through the every day.

Is there a special book that inspires you? Share your summer reading suggestions in the comments below!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource


Photos by Alex Proimos, R. Nial Bradshaw, Jeffery James Pacres, Bryan Ong, and BenPrks.

Breaking Bad Reading | Reading Comprehension Practice

reading comprehension practice

Struggling with reading assignments? This reading comprehension practice exercise may seem a bit strange, but it works! Read on as Tucson, AZ and online tutor Lourdes C. explains the “breaking bad reading” method…


The most fundamental challenge most students face is not in the content, it’s in bad reading habits. The layout of most text in the Western world is linear, following a progressive line of reasoning and logical thought from beginning to end without diversion (which is torture for the reader who has ADHD, by the way). I myself am not a Western-minded person: I don’t think in a straight line but, rather, I systematically absorb a concept and explore it from multiple angles to get a bigger picture than the text is giving me. Regardless of personal style, academia dictates how we acquire and regurgitate information for a passing grade, so, for my own purposes initially, I developed a method which results in, essentially, a kind of speed reading.

This method reduces time and frustration in struggling with the text, works for dyslexics and other processing disorders, augments comprehension by catching over-looked details and significantly enhances retention and recall.

The Steps
The “breaking bad reading” method is a reading comprehension practice exercise that is simple but not necessarily instinctive: essentially, it involves reading the text in the reverse order in which it was written. This makes the conclusion at the end of each section or chapter, rather than the header, the new context. With this method, engaging the text feels more like being a detective than a reader

  • Take a text, preferably an informative one to start practicing, and write down the title – sounds irrelevant but the title was chosen for the overall context and everything in the text should refer to that context. If the content does not match the context, then you know what you’re in for and can create a critical discourse of the text from that standpoint.
  • Write down the chapter or section headers. Again, these are sub-contexts and each section you read should refer to its context as well.
  • Flip to the back of the chapter or text and, instead of reading for comprehension, read every line backwards, from the last paragraph to first. Scan for and write down only two things: concept terms and any words you do not recognize. Tip: jot down the page number and paragraph number for reference so you can find the terms again.
  • Set the unknowns aside and continue to scan. Revisit them when you’re done, get the definitions, and reread the paragraphs where you found them. Do this for each section and then reread the section for comprehension. That’s a bonus to the method: you’ll find yourself taking notes like a pro in no time.

The Pay-Offs

The most frequently asked question I get is, “Yes, but does it work with fiction?” Absolutely, especially for rhetorical analysis or close readings. But remember, fiction was written to entertain; works of fiction are stories and you don’t want to dissect a story before you’ve finished it. For fiction, read the story first and apply the method afterward for your analysis. You’ll discover you’ve missed a lot more than you realized.
The big pay-off for this breaking bad reading method is enriched comprehension and retention so that you own the text when you’re done with it, but there’s also a more important, long-term benefit to this method. As a special education tutor, I’ve taught it successfully to students with ADHD, dyslexia, and other processing disorders, including dysgraphia and executive function disorders. The method’s surprise benefit is its effect on cognitive organization and retention. The breaking bad reading method doesn’t just help you get one good grade on a paper; if applied consistently over a matter of weeks, it restructures the thought process itself. Within a few weeks, you could not only be reading like a pro, you could be thinking with the clarity of a competent scholar, as well. In order to improve through reading comprehension practice, you just have to reverse the process that led to those habits in the first place.

LourdesLourdes C. teaches various music subjects and tutors in Tucson, AZ. Her doctorate is in Applied Linguistics and American Indian Studies. She has been an instructor and tutor for over 20 years for academics, research methods, languages and literature, and music as well. Book in-person or online lessons with Lourdes here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up


Photo by photosteve101

Channeling Your Inner Detective for Reading Comprehension

Deanna's students

Reading assignments can be fun – we promise! Here, Hollywood, FL tutor Deanna P. shares her best reading comprehension strategies for students to keep in mind…

Do you like to play detective and solve mysteries? Well, here are the top reading comprehension strategies to use before, during, and after reading to crack the case and think outside the box.

  1. READ THE TITLE and highlight it; it is the key that unlocks the main idea and what the story is mainly about.
  2. Read the questions, not the answers. Pay attention to words in bold, CAPS, or italicized print and highlight or underline these words.
  3. Read the story. Underline or highlight any challenging vocabulary words. Try using context clues to figure out the word’s meaning. If you are still confused, have a dictionary handy. If you don’t understand the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary, you will not fully understand the structure of the story.
  4. Process of elimination… get rid of those silly answers immediately… there are always two!
  5. Do you know what time it is? Yes indeed, it’s detective time! Let’s tackle those questions at the end, and show them who’s boss! If the answers can be found in the story (i.e. explicit questions), look for clue words in the question, and then go back and look for them in the text. Highlight or underline the answer. This is where your detective skills really come in handy!
  6. Every detective encounters challenges, similar to those challenging questions that cannot be found in the text (i.e. implicit questions). These types of questions are a challenge but not for us super detectives!

Good detectives and readers must use their background knowledge and new knowledge to uncover the correct answer. These types of questions include main idea questions or what the story is mainly about. Again, read the title and the first few sentences. If you are still uncertain, read the last couple sentences. Look for repetitive words. These clues will guide you toward the correct answer, but remember, the MAIN clue to the main idea is right at the top of the page, directly under your magnifying glass: the TITLE!  Many detectives are in a hurry to get to their next case and do not realize that the answers are right under their nose!

Questions about the author’s purpose questions are another type, as well as questions about the genre of text. Here is a helpful clue all detectives need to know in order to understand the author’s purpose. Hint:  It’s a type of dessert and it comes in many varieties, for example, pumpkin, blueberry, cherry, apple, etc. Give up? Well, if you guessed pie you are correct! There are three main reasons authors write.  These three reasons spell out the word PIE:  to persuade, inform, or entertain!

Here are some more clues to unveil the author’s purpose and genre of the text:  If it’s nonfiction and has real pictures, chances are it is to inform. This type of text can be found in newspapers, history books, autobiographies, news channels, or anything that gives facts or anything that can be proven. If the text has made-up characters, even if the story could happen in real life, it is to entertain. These types of stories are realistic fiction, fantasy, fairytales, or anything that is not real. A story doesn’t have to always be funny to entertain.

Finally, if it sounds like a television commercial or contains a lot of opinions, the author is trying to persuade you to agree with them, therefore, it is to persuade.  Be careful, as it is very easy to confuse persuasive text and nonfiction. If it has a lot of opinions, chances are it is to persuade. I like to make a t-chart with one side labeled fact and the other opinion. Then, I skim through the text and keep track of how many opinions and facts there were. The side with the most is the winner!

Detectives need to work hard to solve each case, as well as good readers.  If you follow these reading comprehension strategies, you will solve the case every time! Happy investigating detectives!

DeannaPDeanna P. offers tutoring in a variety of subjects in Hollywood, FL. She has been a full-time educator in Florida for almost eight years. Learn more about Deanna here! 



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

5 Fun Summer Reading Programs for Kids

summer reading

Are your kids itching for summer break? In between summer camps and vacations, don’t forget to encourage your little one to stretch their imagination and explore the world of books! Read on as online tutor Natalie S. shares her recommendations…

Instilling a love of books in your child can be a difficult task for parents. Life is full of daily distractions that often take us away from the simple act of reading. School, work, afterschool activities, and the carpool lane; it all gets in the way! On top of that, it’s especially difficult when children are constantly exposed to electronic devices that may derail them from participating in old-school activities like reading a book or writing a made-up story.

Summer is the perfect time to turn your child’s attention away from the screens and back onto the books! Check out these national programs to help get your kids inspired and hooked on books:

  • Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: This program is a prize-filled online experience! Kids sign up with Scholastic online and log the minutes they spend reading each day. The more they read, the more points they get. These points unlock digital rewards, weekly challenges, and the opportunity to enter sweepstakes so they can win real, tangible prizes. This program runs for the enter summer, so your child can continue to read all summer long.
  • Book IT! by Pizza Hut: Running from June 1st until August 15th, parents can fill out an online form with the book titles your child has read. Your child is then entered into a raffle  for every five books they read, where they can win Pizza Hut gift cards and other cool prizes.
  • Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards: What better way to tempt your child into reading than with the promise of a visit to Chuck E. Cheese? If your child reads every day for two weeks in a row, they receive 10 free tokens, redeemable for prizes. Better yet, this offer lasts until December 31st, so you can keep your child reading throughout the school year. Fill out this form to start tracking your child’s progress.
  • Barnes & Noble Summer ReadingThis program is geared toward children going into 1st-6th grade. When your child reads any eight books and fills out the Barnes & Noble summer reading journal, they qualify for a free book from a provided list. This program runs from May 20th until September 2nd.
  • Sylvan Book Adventure: This summer reading program not only encourages reading, but it fosters reading comprehension abilities. Children in grades K-8 can read books from the Sylvan Book Adventure database, then they take a quiz about the books they read. The more points they earn, the more prizes they receive!

Not sure what to read? Here are some of my favorite summer reading suggestions for elementary, middle, and high school students:

1. “The Boxcar Children” series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
2. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
3. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
4. “Holes” by Louis Sachar
5. “The Magic Treehouse” series by Mary Pope Osborne

Middle School
1. “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner
2. “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke
3. “The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” by Michael Scott
4. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
5. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

High School – The Classics
1. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger
3. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
4. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey
5. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

High School – For Fun
1. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
2. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
3. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
4. “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell
5. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

So head to the library for one of these summer reading recommendations, sign your child up for one (or all!) of the above programs, and watch them excitedly integrate reading into their lives!

Natalie S.Natalie S. tutors online in English, ESL, History, Phonics, Reading, and Test Prep. She received her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware, and her MA in English Literature at San Diego State University. Learn more about Natalie here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource


Photo by KOMUnews