Look through Book Club and Book Fair catalogues with your child and talk about the books you would like to read together. Discuss what you think the books might be about.
Visit your local library. Enjoy free resources such as books and read-aloud events.
Be a reading role model and let your child see you reading—for enjoyment, for news and for information in cookbooks, magazines, online etc. This way they see that reading is important for many reasons.
Assign a place in your home for your family’s books to show your child that books are special and deserve an organised storage space. Fill your home with lots of reading materials.
If space allows, create a special area for your child to dedicate to reading. Make sure your child puts aside phones, tablets and any other devices that may form a distraction.
Encourage your child to become a reading omnivore—as we mentioned earlier, all forms of reading materials are beneficial when it comes to reaching their reading goals. If they find a particular genre that they love, encourage them to explore more titles with similar themes.
Encourage children to read to their siblings, their friends, grandparents, pets and even their stuffed toys—any ear is a good ear when it comes to reading aloud!
Encourage your child to create their own story, whether it’s a short-story, a comic strip or a novel. This allows them to use their creativity to write their own story, and also encourages them to proudly read it to others.
Tie books and TV/movies together. For example, read about sea life after watching a nature documentary on the ocean. Or, connect books and experiences together. For example, after a school excursion to the zoo, read books about animals.
Write easy-to-read notes and leave them in lunchboxes, on pillows or on mirrors and promote a sense of fun and eagerness about reading. Write your shopping list clearly and ask your child to help you read it in the supermarket.
Start seasonal traditions. Pick a book to read every year when your child goes back to school. You can also read the same special book during a holiday or birthdays.
Keep favourite books around. It can be comforting for a reader to build confidence and fluency by practising when re-reading a favourite book.
Keep these tips in mind:
Rinse and repeat—the idea of reading the same picture book aloud over and over may make your eye twitch, however children learn words through repetition. Hearing the same story multiple times enables them to learn these words by heart.
Choice is key—choice is one of the most important factors when it comes to a child falling in love with reading. Allow your child to select books that they’re interested in hearing aloud.
Don’t be distracted—in the digital age, it’s very easy for both the listener and the reader to get distracted by digital noise, such as tablets, phones and the TV. Choose a comfortable reading space away from technology.
Get excited—showing your child that reading is an enjoyable experience for you will instil from an early age the belief that reading is fun. Change your voice and tone to suit different characters, and use hand and bodily movements to bring the tale to life.
Pictures help—Illustrations are visual clues that can help kids build their vocabulary and their emotional toolkit. Pausing to address the pictures in a book when appropriate and discussing with your child what emotions etc. are happening in the scene helps in a child’s emotional development
Read, read, read—read aloud as often as you can, whenever the opportunity appears, whether you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or reading a recipe while cooking dinner.
Model daily reading habits. Talk with children about what you are reading and why you find reading personally interesting and meaningful.
Set aside time for daily reading. If we value reading, we must make time for it. Children who read for at least 20 minutes a day score in the top range on tests and express more motivation and interest in reading. Even short blocks of time every day are better than bursts of reading on an occasional basic.
Carry a book with you everywhere. When packing for trips or running errands, throw books and magazines into the suitcase or back seat. The number one way adult readers rack up reading time is stealing short reading breaks in between other obligations. Carrying a book with you shows children how to steal this reading time.
Provide a wide variety of reading material. Fiction and nonfiction, print and online magazines, graphic novels and comics–children need access to lots of texts that match their interests and reading ability. You never know what book or topic might engage a child with reading.
Read aloud with children. Sharing books with children–even teenagers–reinforces that reading is important and something you find personally rewarding. Through reading aloud, you send pleasure messages about reading and can share books with children that might not be able to read on their own. With older children, reading together can provide a launching point for discussions and help you connect on a regular basis. Burdened with homework and after school activities, many teens stop reading for pleasure. Reading together can keep them invested.
Visit the library often.
Celebrate all reading. Children read more when they are given choices in what they read.
Limit screen time. The more time children spend using electronic devices and watching television, the less they read.
- Donalyn Miller
Amplify the benefits of story time by asking your young reader these questions before, during, and after you read together.
What do you think might happen in this story? This helps children notice and think about clues from the title and illustrations.
What word do you think should come next? Every so often, cover a word in a sentence and ask this question. It encourages observational skills, since your child will choose a word based on what they've learned about the story so far or what they decipher from the illustrations.
What was that character’s name again? Simple recall questions help you gauge your child’s reading comprehension. It’s common for a child to skim past words or names they’re not familiar with, but remembering these basic facts helps them to better answer more complex comprehension questions later on, and boosts attention and memory skills. What’s more, knowing all of the important details will help make the rest of the book far more engaging and enjoyable.
Which words do you think best describe this character? This encourages your child to consider the relationships between characters.
Does anything in this book seem familiar to you? This helps kids to make connections to their own world and it helps them to better understand what’s happening around them.
Pam Allyn, a literacy expert and Senior Vice President of Innovation & Development at Scholastic Education says it’s difficult to overstate the importance of reading comprehension — after all, it's what determines if your child truly understands (and enjoys) what they’re reading and learning. One simple way to promote reading comprehension: Get your child talking about the books they read at home!
Allyn recommends these three discussion strategies to boost your child’s reading comprehension during stories.
Discuss: Don’t just read the story or comment on it — talk about it together! “It’s helpful to encourage conversation, because it helps readers deepen their understanding of the text,” says Allyn. Express your own thoughts as you’re reading and find out what your child thinks about the story, too.
Ask questions: Try to make them open-ended, rather than yes-or-no questions. For instance, you can ask your child what they’re wondering about at the moment, what they would do if they were in a certain character's shoes, or how a character might act differently if they lived in your town.
Reflect: At the end of the story, encourage your child to think about what you’ve read together. “I might say, ‘Reflect on your favourite page and why that feels important to you now that you’ve heard the whole story,’” says Allyn.
Following these tips will make a big difference in how your child thinks about and understands a book.
When reading aloud as a family, early childhood educators stress that the first read should always be for pleasure and about your child engaging with visuals, hearing your tone and expression, listening to how words sound together, and making meaning of the story.
You can then use subsequent readings to follow the five savvy tips below for spelling success.
Embark on a Letter Search. Encourage them to identify letters in the book's title or search for words that begin with a specific letter on a page. With younger children, point out words that begin with the same letter as their name.
Show Your Child What a Difference a Letter Can Make. Incorporate rhyme play during read-alouds. Show your child how changing one letter — for instance, the first letter of cat, bat, sat, and hat — has a huge effect on sound and meaning. This is effective because it engages your child’s senses (both visual and auditory) and shows them the role individual letters play in the formation of words, providing a foundation for strong spelling skills.
Match Words to Pictures. Connecting printed and spoken words to visuals also helps kids better grasp meaning and context, which will in turn help them become better spellers. Look for the names of characters or words that you can match with pictures in the book.
Give Context to "Mystery" Words. When you come across a word your child doesn’t understand, Burnap suggests giving a simple explanation before continuing to read. Having a children’s dictionary handy can be a great tool for more established readers ages 8 to 10 after story time. Once you finish a read-aloud, ask your child if they’d like to look up a particular new word. If so, discuss the word, its definition, and how it is used within the story (and elsewhere).
Encourage Your Child to Write in Creative Ways. Writing a word is a sure-fire way for kids to visualise how words are formed and build muscle memory for spelling. Ask them to draw a picture of their favourite character or an event from a story you just read, and to write a caption describing it. This will not only help improve their spelling, but it will also inspire them to think critically about the book's plot.