Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Which Came First: Reading Or Writing

     My granddaughter is struggling with reading. So I have been reading lots of things about how to improve a child's ability to read. One of the things that I stumbled on was the idea that reading and writing are interconnected. As writers we know that our writing will never improve if we aren't reading, but is the opposite also true? Does our ability to read improve through writing? The answer is yes. 

   Studies on the brain have shown that writing, not on a keyboard, but on paper stimulates what is referred to as sensory-motor memory.  Young children can benefit greatly as they write and read words, recognizing phonemic sound chunks. 

Last April, 2010 a study was conducted to answer three questions:
[See details here.]

1. Does writing about material really enhance students’ comprehension of text?
2. Does teaching writing strengthen students’ reading skills?
3. Does increasing how much students write improve how well they read?

When the results of the study were in the answer was yes to all of them. They also came up with these observations:

1. Writing is an effective tool for enhancing reading and we need to take advantage of its power.
2. We need to stop “pussy footing” around with writing and make it a central element of the 
    reform movement.
3. Writing and reading should not take the place of each other.
4. There is still more we need to learn.

There are several ideas I've found that can apply these ideas.  One of them involves immersing the child in a particular genre and then using what they have learned in creating their own stories. Their understanding of genre improves and so does their writing. If you write mystery it seems only logical that you would read writers that specialize in that genre.

When I'm trying to create a particular part of my writing the best way for me to work it out usually involves reading. If I'm working on creating a great hook the best way to accomplish that is to see how other writers have done it. When children read to learn about particular elements of writing, say a conclusion the best way is for them to read other writers conclusions.

I loved being read to as a child. One I wasn't a great reader so when my mother read to me I was able to appreciate the sound of words, the inflections a writer includes through dialogue, syntax and pace. This knowledge can be broadened when the child writes or immitates what they read, in their own stories. Isn't that what we do as writers. We try voices, we listen, and try again until we find our own.

The important thing isn't which came first, reading or writing, but that they are interconnected. They build and support each other. Nowhere else is that clearly evident than in the world of the writer.

For more great information  check these out:

How has reading changed your writing?  How has your writing changed your reading? 

1 comment:

  1. So true! I only really learned how to read when I learned how to write and make my own sounds. :-)


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