Reading Under the Stars

As part of Take Your Family to School Week, Wilson Elementary School PTA in Norman, Oklahoma invited their school community to participate in a Family Reading Experience in partnership with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). The Wilson Elementary School PTA coined this event “Reading Under the Stars” where families took part in a read-aloud of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca and visited four literacy-based activity stations which included craft-making and the creation of space-themed stories.

Upon completion of their ‘Astronaut Checklists’, students earned a free space book. Wilson Elementary School PTA was met with wonderful support from school staff who ran the activity stations and helped prepare dinner for the families. The PTA Board, Principal, school counselor and cafeteria staff were all there to lend helping hands towards the success of the event. The community also lent great support with the local library leading the read-alouds and the nearby High School bringing a giant, blow-up solar system that enabled students and families to learn about the stars and constellations.

With over 130 people in attendance, this Family Reading Experience was a true success. PTA President, Annette Price said, “Many of the students loved creating stories about planets and a rocket craft that allowed students to spell out words on their rocket.  The whole event was a lot of fun for all involved!” You too can host a Family Reading Experience at your elementary school to celebrate literacy. Visit PTA.org/Reading to access tips and resources for hosting your event and RIFs PTA Portal for book lists and accompanying activities.

Amy Weinburg is the Manager of Programs & Partnerships at National PTA. 

5 Simple Tips for Engaging Your Family in Reading

This piece was originally featured in Mediaplanet

Reading and literacy skills are critical to children’s academic, social and emotional achievement. Families play an essential role in helping children develop their literacy skills and fostering a love of reading.

Research shows that when families read together, children do better in school and beyond. Reading with children provides an opportunity to expose them to more complex words and stories than they would normally encounter on their own. Research also demonstrates that children who frequently read with their families tend to have a strong belief that reading is both important and enjoyable.

Here are five tips for family reading:

1. Establish a reading area in your home 

Designating a special space in your home where you read together can help inspire your family to sit down and get lost in books. Creating a reading space with children is also a great way to enjoy quality time together.

2. Spend 30 minutes each day reading together

Even if your child is more interested in reading on their own, sit together and read something side-by-side. Then, ask questions about what they are reading.

3. Make it fun

Reading shouldn’t be a chore; it should be an adventure. If your attitude reflects the joy you feel from getting lost in a book, it’s easier for your children to feel that way too.

4. Look for interesting, reading level-appropriate books

For young readers, find books with illustrations or photos that bring words to life and provide context clues for new vocabulary. For adolescents, find books about subjects that interest your child or introduce new experiences or opportunities.

5. Books make great holiday presents

Giving books as gifts, especially on topics children love, will help encourage and support their interest in reading.

During the holidays and all year-round, it is so important to share the joy and importance of reading with children while making family memories.

Laura Bay is president of National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting children’s health, well-being and educational success through family and community involvement.

For more tips on how to how to grow children who love to read, or how to host a PTA Family Reading Experience, visit: www.PTA.org/Reading.