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'Parenting a Struggling Reader'

[JAN. 22, 2003]  "Parenting a Struggling Reader." Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D. Broadway Books, 2002, 284 pages.

In the new book "Parenting a Struggling Reader," co-author Susan Hall writes: "Most parents, like me, waste time and energy because of misguided advice and their own limited understanding of the problems their child faces. This book provides parents with advice and information, but most important it provides hope." Born out of the experiences Hall faced as a parent of a first-grader struggling with reading, she and co-author Louisa Moats have written a book described as "the first completely, comprehensive, practical guide for recognizing, diagnosing, and overcoming any childhood reading difficulty." The chapters contained in the book cover a broad spectrum of issues related to childhood reading difficulties, including:

  • Parenting a child who struggles with reading
  • The importance of being informed
  • Why you are your child's best advocate
  • Identifying the problem
  • Having your child tested
  • Seeking a diagnosis
  • How to recognize effective reading instruction
  • The older child
  • Navigating the individualized education plan

Parenting a child who struggles with reading

When a parent suspects that a child has a reading difficulty, there are several questions that must be addressed: How do I approach the school about the problem? How can I become more informed about this issue? Most importantly, what is my role in this process? The different roles for parents include offering emotional support to the child, clarifying the nature of the problem, working toward quick action, gathering information and becoming an advocate for your child.

Why you are your child's best advocate

What is an advocate? According to the authors, an advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of another person's needs and rights. In the case of children with reading difficulties, the parent, not the school employee, is the best advocate. Not only do parents know the child better than anyone else, they also know the history of the child's instruction, understand the conflicts and stresses they are dealing with, and have the child's best interests at heart. Parents can become effective advocates for their children by staying informed about the educational process and their legal rights, organizing their child's records, documenting everything that transpires during this period, and getting an independent, second opinion.


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Identifying the problem

Parents have many important tools at their disposal to help them recognize and combat reading difficulties in children. Reading difficulty has become so commonplace in America that the National Institutes of Health refers to it as "a major public health problem." Some experts recommend that children should be screened for reading comprehension no later than the middle of kindergarten. These tests can oftentimes uncover hidden problems or conditions such as learning disorders or dyslexia. Early signs of a child exhibiting a reading difficulty include reluctance to read aloud, complaints that reading is hard, falling behind their peers, difficulty with unknown or common words, and guessing rather than sounding out unknown words.

Having your child tested

If parents believe that their child has a reading difficulty, there are many tests that can help identify the problem and suggest possible treatments. Psychoeducational testing measures cognitive ability (IQ), academic achievement, language proficiency and other processes related to learning. Although there is no "dyslexia test battery" to diagnose dyslexia, specialists can piece together information from other tests as well as information gathered from less formal assessments. In describing these tests the authors discuss the right age a child should be tested, how to select someone to administer the tests, and the legal and educational role the school plays in testing.

"Parenting a Struggling Reader" is an outstanding reference for parents who are concerned about their child's reading abilities. Both authors are members of the International Dyslexia Association and have previously co-authored the acclaimed book "Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years." The book is fully indexed and contains appendices on assessment tools to identify at-risk children, as well as additional resources for parents.

In the introduction Hall writes: "The causes and cures for reading difficulties are well known in the research community, but classroom practice has been slow to recognize and use the information generated by research. Because parents expressed such profound need for straightforward guidance, we felt compelled to write this book." This book is recommended for every parent who suspects a reading difficulty in his or her child or wishes to become better informed on the subject.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

'Epic Proportions'

[JAN. 8, 2003]  DECATUR -- Theatre 7 - Decatur's Community Theatre will present the comedy "Epic Proportions" in February at the Decatur Civic Center Theatre. Tickets for the production go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, Jan. 13, at the Decatur Civic Center Box Office.

"Epic Proportions" is set in the 1930s, when brothers Benny and Phil find themselves in the Arizona desert as extras in a huge historical epic film. Before they know it, Phil is directing the movie and Benny is starring in it. To complicate matters, they both fall in love with Louise, the assistant director of extras.

The Theatre 7 production is directed by Jayson Albright.

Cast members are Jayson Albright, Shawn Becker, Doug Bishop, Peter Churukian, Amy Hoak, Tim Haworth, Alison Logan and Matt Tucker.

Performance dates and times are Feb. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. For ticket information, call the box office, (217) 422-6161.

For more information, visit

[Theatre 7 press release]

'Ragtime' auditions

[JAN. 8, 2003]  DECATUR -- Theatre 7 - Decatur's Community Theatre will have auditions soon for the second production of its 39th season, the epic musical "Ragtime."

Cast requirements:

  • Two children: one boy and one girl. Must be small of stature. Both children sing solos and have speaking lines.
  • 40 adults, including 10-15 African-Americans

The auditions will be at the Decatur Civic Center Theater on Sunday, Jan. 19, and Monday, Jan. 20. Children 7-10 years old audition at 5 p.m. and adults at 6:30 p.m.

To try out, prepare a song two minutes in length. An accompanist will be provided. A short piece of dialogue will be provided, as well as a short dance step.

For more information about the auditions, visit

With questions, call Mike Redlinger, director. The daytime phone number is (217) 428-4315.

[Theatre 7 press release]

LCT 2003 season

[DEC. 9, 2002]  Lincoln Community Theatre is pleased to announce three productions selected for the summer of 2003.

Kicking off the 32nd season of live theater for the Lincoln community will be the hilarious musical "Nuncrackers." This fun-filled show is a continuation of the antics of the dauntless, darling nuns of Mount St. Helen's Convent who delighted Lincoln audiences in the "Nunsense" series several summers ago. Audience participation, one-liners, a rum-soaked fruitcake, dueling sugar plum fairies and dear Sister Amnesia will definitely start the summer theatrical season with humor and fun.

The July production, "Steel Magnolias," is one of our best ensemble productions. The familiar, bittersweet story touches all the emotional peaks and valleys of life in a small Southern community. From wise-cracking Truvy to unsure Annelle, the characters in this poignant play promise to touch everyone with both laughter and tears.


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Ending the season on a patriotic note, LCT's final production of the summer will be "1776," a stirring, yet humorous musical featuring a large cast representing our founding fathers. Humor abounds with fast-paced dialogue involving Ben Franklin, Henry Lee and other early congressional characters, along with catchy, patriotic music.

To kick off the holiday season, Lincoln Community Theatre is offering holiday gift certificates for season memberships for the summer 2003 season. Certificates can be mailed directly to the receiver or to the gift giver. Certificates for adult memberships are $20 each, and those for children through eighth grade are $12 each. Requests for gift certificates may be sent to LCT, Box 374, Lincoln, IL 62656. Further information is available at (217) 732-7542 or by visiting the LCT website,

[Judy Rader, LCT publicity chairman]

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Lincoln Community Theatre information

Lincoln Community Theatre's box office, phone 735-2614,  is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday for the summer season. The office is located in the lobby of the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Lincoln College.

Performances of "Dearly Departed" are scheduled for July 12-20, and "The King and I" will be presented Aug. 2-10. Show times are 2 p.m. on Sundays and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The LCT mailing address is Lincoln Community Theatre, P.O. Box 374, Lincoln, IL  62656; e-mail:

Visit the LDC website at Pictures from past productions are included.

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