12 Tips for Reading At Home With Your Child

"A Dozen Tips on Raising a Reader"

The following is a list of ways that may help as you are reading at home with your children.

  1. Be sure and engage your child in conversations, for communicating orally is a prerequisite to understanding the written word. Encourage and ask questions like "Why?," "What would you have done?," or "Who was your favorite character?" from a book or a television show.
  2. Your child will have a lot of fun choosing books from the library or bookstore and will enjoy even the simplest of tales. Once your child begins to read independently, take turns reading to each other. This is also a great time to begin to read longer stories - perhaps a chapter or two a day. There are plenty of books out there that will keep them on the edge of their seats until the next reading session.
  3. Be certain that your child has the opportunity to watch you enjoy reading. Pull out those newspapers, magazines, or novels before the little ones are in bed.
  4. Make a habit of giving children's books or magazine subscriptions as gifts. There are books and magazines for every interest and age group. If in doubt, a gift certificate from a bookseller is a great gift for all ages.
  5. Playing word games is also a fun way to learn new words and to develop a much larger vocabulary. Board games like Scrabble and homemade games are excellent learning tools. Try playing rhyming games with your child when driving or walking. Think of a word, and each of you take a turn thinking up words (real or imagined) that rhyme with it.
  6. Would your child rather clean up his room than pick up a book? These five tips from reading expert Marie Carbo can help you get your child back on the right reading track:
    • Make reading relaxing and low-key for a short part of the day.
    • Read aloud some funny or interesting parts of your favorite book.
    • Draw your child in with a riddle book for kids, a passage from Sports Illustrated, or a newspaper story.
    • If your kid likes a movie, see if it's based on a book, then bring home the book.
    • For kids who have lost the motivation to read, use material that's intensely interesting to them. Your child may almost have to disassociate what he's doing at school with the act of reading for something fun.
  7. The first time I went out of town for business, I opened my suitcase, and my six-year-old had put some books in for me to read to her. I called her on the phone and read them to her at bedtime. That was a wonderful evening for both of us!
  8. Having an older sibling or friend read with your child can be a positive experience. It creates a non-threatening, nonjudgmental environment for the beginning reader where there is no teacher or peer pressure. The reader is "looked up to" by the younger child, regardless of the reader's ability. This quickly builds the reader's confidence and leads to greater reading enjoyment and accelerated proficiency.
  9. Read many stories with rhyming words and repeated lines. Invite your child to join in on these parts. Point, word-by-word, as your child reads along with you.
  10. Make reading aloud a natural part of family life. Share an article you clipped from the paper, a poem, a letter, or a random page from an encyclopedia - without turning it into a lesson.
  11. Kids sometimes have trouble getting started writing poems. Look for fresh idea-starters on www.gigglepoetry.com, including fill-in-the-blank poems, and help writing nursery rhymes, limericks, and list poems. Look for lively tips for writing (or teaching) poetry, provided by Jack Prelutsky, Karla Kuskin, and Jean Marzollo on www.teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/index.htm. And check out http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles.htm for more poetry resources, including activities, booklists, information about poetry slams, and tips for exploring nursery rhymes and poetry with kids.
  12. Some will find reading difficult and, because of their struggles, have a hard time enjoying reading, regardless of what you do. If this is the case, please see the article "How to Help a Struggling Reader: 101."

More resources are available to help you encourage reading development.