This is a long reply to an article, 學習英語 由閱讀開始, re-posted by 台灣英語網.
I would like to post my reply here to share with all of you since a lifelong reading habit should be highly promoted and fostered when the children are young.
Vivian does have a lot of good points for parents. I don't know about her definition on "guided reading", but here is my take on reading English books with children. It is also applicable to adult learners if it is of interest to any of you.
Little kids can't read just yet. So, even “guided reading” has its limit depending on the age and language proficiency of the individual. Here is my professional view on reading strategies that we teachers practise in the school setting here. These methods are also highly recommended to all parents who read to/with their children at home.
There are four different approaches to teaching reading: modeled reading, shared reading, guided reading and independent reading. All four approaches are intertwined when teaching reading to children. My suggestion is to start with modeled reading, shared reading, guided reading, and then gradually move on to independent reading. You simply lead the children to reading on their own. Nevertheless, one approach does not disappear while the other is being dominantly applied.
Modeled Reading: The adults read to the children and demonstrate what "a good reading" should look like. Let the children listen and see how you model the reading. At this point, you mainly “talk and discuss” about reading with your children. Oral language is the fundamental method to ensure your children fully comprehend the story by talking to your children and encouraging them to retell the story to you.
Shared Reading: For children who are beginning to read stories, shared reading is a great family fun. You and your children should take turns to read the book together as a team. You would read parts of it and so do the children. "Shadow reading" can be helpful as well; you and your children are reading at the same time; however, you gradually reduce your voice volume and let the child’s voice as the dominant one as if you were just reading in the background like a shadow.
Guided Reading: For children who can read some books independently, you always want to ensure that they advance and make as much progress as they can in reading. Then, find a book of their interest but may be slightly above their reading level. (The suggestion is that the child should be able to read and understand about 95% of the book.) While they are reading, sit beside them and help them to ensure that they can tackle the difficult parts of the book. You are literally teaching them the difficult part (that 5%). This way, the child can always consistently improve their reading fluency and comprehension. (I didn’t make up the number of 95%. It is well documented in many of the books on guided reading.)
Independent Reading: If the child can read independently, then it is time to make sure that the child can utilize all the tools such as a dictionary, a grammar book, the Internet, the encyclopaedia, and other resources to tackle reading independently. You still need to check on them to make sure they understand a text fully by conducting a reading conference with oral discussion or a pencil and paper writing activity.
As the teachers and parents, you lead the children to the wealth of reading and gradually release the responsibility of reading to the children, from reading with help to reading independently. Even when the child is very good at reading, all the above four approaches should still be used simultaneously to promote reading and make reading a quality fun time for the whole family. Nowadays, some parents just don't do it enough.
Guess what? The same approaches are also applicable to teaching writing, from modeled writing, shared writing, guided writing, to independent writing. There is no shortcut to learning a new language. All four language competencies are equally important and should be practised in order to be fully proficient in a language.