We've been writing in our journals for nearly 2 years and the benefits are pouring out all over the place. The stories that the boys write are now published into books and these books become great sources of meaningful reading for them.
Children have very few opportunities to read meaningful texts, especially before they are considered "real readers". When you publish their writing it not only helps them develop as writers and see that they write for a purpose (publishing) and that their writing is entertaining (they share it with others), but then their writing becomes books they can read fluenty. It's perfect!
I videoed Remi this past week working on one of his books. The first video is him reading it for the first time. You'll notice his reading is choppy, slow, and he's unable to read it confidently. Even though he wrote the words to this story, the actual printed words are unknown to him. This is why published books are so helpful. Fluency can happen a lot more naturally when the book is the child's own words. First of all, they love the story. Second of all, they know what it's suppose to say which makes reading it a lot easier.
This is Remi on his second reading of the book. His reading became much more fluent and much more confident. He's able to point to each word as he reads and he's able to predict which words come next. As the week went on Remi became even more fluent. Now his book sits in his reading basket as one that he can read independently. Re-reading these books will develop the reader better than anything else I know of. It creates a reader that reads fluently (smoothly and confidently). So many books that early readers are taught with are read word-by-word and sound so choppy and monotone. Published books are stories out of their own heads and help create a fluent reader--every teachers dream!
I didn't track James' story from the get-go, but here he is reading his story about showing Randad his jeep.
I highly encourage you to be writing with your child as often as you can. If you are a teacher then I highly encourage you to be writing in front of your kids and with your kids as often as you can. Developing the "writer" also develops the "reader". That's the belief system behind the "Whole Language" program that most public schools live by. If you are unsure of how to get started writing with your children then check out all my old "writing and journal" blogs. Click them on my labels bar and see how I got started with the boys. It's so easy and it's so beneficial.