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.

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.