“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
— Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, Educational Psychologist
A conversation I have had with many parents lately has been around getting their child to read at home. We do wonderful work here in our Learning Studio to improve reading skills, but some parents still have difficulty getting their child to read at home. Here are some tips to help encourage and engage your child in reading:
- It doesn’t matter what they are reading; it just matters that they are. Let’s not worry about the genre or text type; instead, let’s begin to celebrate that they have an interest in reading, no matter what it is. Whether it be a motorbike magazine, a cartoon based book (such as Geronimo the Mouse), something online, fact, fiction, or anything in between, it’s the actual reading of words that matters.
- Let them make choices in what to read. Yes, they may chose the exact same book every night, but it means they are still enjoying and engaged with this book. Often, they find a safety and comfort in knowing what the story is about. To introduce variety into their reading diet, alternate between who gets to choose the story each night, or read two stories; one your child chooses, and one you choose.
- Set up a special reading corner/space at home. Having somewhere special to go to enjoy reading can make a big difference. A tidy space where books are easily accessible is important, and a level of comfort can give that little extra motivation. For older children, a simple gesture such as a lamp on a table next to their bed may be enough. There are loads of easy ways to create your very own family reading space and Google is a great inspiration.
Check out some of these simple and realistically achievable reading nooks and corners that are reasonable to set up in the average home.
Images courtesy of
http://www.flor.com/blog/cozy-kids/, http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2012/08/fall-project-set-up-book-nook.html, https://hipmommies.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/cozy-reading-nook-decorating/, http://sweethomedesign2013.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/living-room-reading-corner-designs.html
And here is what it looks like currently in our house (excuse the low quality photograph, this was ‘an opportunity captured but not interrupted!’)
Indi’s reading corner has easy access to her books where she can make her own choices on what she ‘reads’ (she re-tells the stories, and reads the pictures). She has her comfy sheep skin rug to sit on, and is slightly blocked by her bed and rocking chair to separate it from the rest of her room and reduce stimuli.
- Read with your child. Alternate between you reading to them, and them reading to you. It might be a page each, a chapter each, a book each (long or short), an article each. Make it about spending time together, and not focused on the chore of ‘checking’ their reading. If you know they are going to have difficulty on a particular word (especially names), tell them what it says as soon as they get to it. It is our job to teach them how to read, and it is your job is to give them opportunities to read and to feel good about it. Mileage is important. The more they read, the better they will become. A little reading should happen every single day. Reading with your child is not just for younger students. Relationships with our children don’t stop when they reach high school. Find a topic that you can share together. It could be related to a building project you can do together. Get creative and enjoy this time.
- You DO have time to read together. As I eluded to above, reading with your child could be as little as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. You do not have to complete an entire story. I often let our 4 year old know how much I am going to read to her that night. It’s not uncommon for me to say “Indi, Mumma is feeling exhausted tonight, so we are going to read 4 pages (we’re reading picture books) and will finish the rest tomorrow.” Reading together does not have to be only at night time. Take any opportunity where you have 5 minutes to devote to your child.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo, children’s author
What works for you when it comes to reading at home with your children?
Do you have a reading nook at home?
Email me a photo of your child reading at home or of your special reading nook and I will share them with our readers 🙂