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Home  >  Reading and Writing  >  Inspiring Readers
Learning to Read by Writing
By Susan Knauer

It is impossible for me to think of teaching either reading or writing as an isolated subject. They work together to build language skills.

Writing Workshop is a means to use children's natural creativity and imagination to develop both their reading and writing skills. Children enjoy listening to and telling stories. Therefore, allowing them the opportunity to share their stories in Writing Workshop develops all of their language skills. During the Workshop time, students are permitted to write stories on any topic of interest to them. They take much pleasure and pride in sharing these stories in the "author's chair."

When students are writing stories, we focus on the mechanics of correct writing, but not at the expense of destroying their enthusiasm and sense of accomplishment. They are encouraged to use phonetic or "sound" spelling. This strengthens their phonics skills that they can apply to the reading that they do.

As they write stories, we discuss various elements of a story, such as the beginning, middle and end, the setting, problem and solution and characters. As they incorporate these elements in their writing, they are better able to distinguish them in the stories that they read. This in turn increases their reading comprehension, and that circles back to making them better writers.

Reading is, of course, done for pleasure, but it is also done for ascertaining information. Whether the literature is fiction or nonfiction, students must understand that print contains a message.

When they are the authors, children quickly become aware of the need to gain meaning from print. The "author's chair" experience, where a child shares his or her story with the class, is a real situation in which each author learns how effectively he or she has communicated the meaning that was intended.

As parents, we can support and encourage children to use their creativity and not worry about having all of the mechanics correct. As they become more practiced writers, the correct mechanics will develop by focusing on one or two elements at a time. When adults step in and correct too many errors, children become defeated and lose their sense of ownership for what they created.

A mixture of reading good literature, discussing the stories and allowing children to express their ideas in writing will develop capable, creative writers. These young writers produce delightful stories and also become stronger readers.

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About the Author: Susan Knauer is a Second Grade Teacher at Oceanview School in Anchorage.

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