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.

Vacation and Read Together—Take the Family Reading Challenge!

FrancesFrost2012We’ve followed a boy who lives within the gears of a train station clock. Run with a boy turned superhero when struck by lightning. Solved puzzling cases with kids in a mysterious society. Cheered on a would-be prince restored to his throne. Cried through a first-love trip to Amsterdam. Looked for the lost class guinea pig with twin sisters.

We’ve done all of this from the blanket in the yard, cuddled up in bed and riding in the car on cross-state road trips.

Of course, it’s through the magic of books.

Since the kids were babies, I’ve read to and with them. I want my kids to share my love of reading, for the academic benefits, but also because it’s great entertainment. Books are available on every subject and about all kinds of people on different adventures. They can make you laugh, cry, think and dream. And they’re portable! Especially now with iPads, e-readers and mobile phones.

And summer is a great season to get the kids reading. The long days—hours by the pool, enjoying an ice cream—they all go well with a good book.

As we pack our suitcases for vacation, the kids have two book assignments:

  • Select a book to read—a paper book or e-book. The books have to be long enough to last past us pulling out of the driveway. It’s that easy! Reading is the perfect end-of-the-day, calming activity. Parents can read aloud and let the kids read too. Or everyone can read quietly, together.
  • Select an audio-book for travel time. When we do road trips, we like a story to help pass the hours and miles in the car. The book has to be something everyone will enjoy, so this causes the most discussion and negotiations. It also results in us driving around an extra block before parking, just to get to the end of the chapter and chit-chat waiting for dinner as we talk about what character we like (or don’t) and what we think will happen next.

Summer may not seem like the time for academics, but reading is the perfect lazy day activity. And reading together makes it even more fun. So grab a book, gather the kids and enjoy.

Frances Frost is a wife, mom of four and a PTA leader. She is also an author and the blogger for Just Piddlin’ (slackermomof4.blogspot.com). Follow her on Facebook—Just Piddlin with Frances—and Twitter @JustPiddlinBlog. Frances and her family are part of our inspiration for the PTA Family Reading Challenge. Watch this video to learn about how they—and other families—love to read together

PTA Family Reading Challenge

You can be a part of the reading fun this summer by joining the PTA Family Reading Challenge—a campaign to inspire families to keep learning alive by reading great books together.

In July, National PTA will empower families to read together by sharing tips and activities that encourage ongoing reading. Families can participate in the PTA Family Reading Challenge—and win great prizes—by sharing photos, videos and memories that demonstrate how and why reading together is a fun and treasured family activity.

Celebrating PTA Family Reading Experience During National Reading Month

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

March is National Reading Month, a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers and inspire a lifelong love of literature.

In celebration of National Reading Month, National PTA and Amazon hosted a PTA Family Reading Experience, Powered by Kindle event at Strathmore Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

During the event, National PTA President-Elect Laura Bay announced the great news that 1,000 Kindles will be donated to PTAs across the country in low-income schools where 40% or more of enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. She then introduced Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover and recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, who shared his own experiences reading with his family and why he feels it is so important for students to connect with loved ones through books.

Families also participated in fun, interactive activities highlighting and reinforcing core skills of literacy—phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary—using both physical books and Kindle e-books.

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

Special thanks to Strathmore Elementary School Principal Tivinia Nelson and PTA leaders in Maryland for coordinating the event: Ray Leone, Maryland State PTA President; Frances Frost, Montgomery County PTA Council President; Laura Miller, Strathmore PTA President/Bel Pre PTA Vice President; and Brenda Quinlisk, Bel Pre PTA President/Strathmore PTA Vice President.

In addition to the PTA Family Reading Experience event at Strathmore Elementary School, author Kwame Alexander worked with Amazon Kindle to conduct a satellite media tour, during which he was interviewed by radio and TV stations across the country about the importance of family reading and the PTA Family Reading Experience program. Watch an interview that aired on WTVR-TV in Richmond, Va. and an interview that aired on WTVW-TV in Evansville, Ind.

For more information about the PTA Family Reading Experience program and the application process to receive a set of Kindles, visit PTA.org/familyreading.

You can also view photos from this event on our PTA Flickr.

Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.