The Family That Reads Together


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Just Piddlin’”.

shutterstock_69658417As our children get older – and more literate – we generally feel like we can let go of family reading, the nightly story at bedtime thing.  But educators keep telling us that family reading, even after kids can read on their own, makes kids better readers, which of course, is a pretty important lifelong skill.

Last week, our school hosted a Family Reading Experience with the National PTA. There were reading and word games that parents could play with their kids that were easy to do and didn’t require a whole lot of prep or equipment (good things for a busy parent.)  For instance, one game focused on compound words: select a letter at random and write all the compound words you can think of in one minute. Easy. Anybody can play. No special equipment; in fact, this could be a car game where everyone calls out words while driving to [fill-in your own kid activity].

The guest author, Kwame Alexander, demonstrated reading picture books – particularly those that rhyme – with your little ones. Read the sentence and pause at the words that rhyme and let them guess.  “Would you eat them in a box, would you eat them with a ____?” You get it. Yes, this counts as helping your kid with literacy skills!

Now, the early readers, that’s easy because we know we’re supposed to help them read. But what about the older ones?  Here’s a few ideas that might help you out.

Read a book together. This could go two ways. One – sit down and read the same book at the same time.  Something like Wonderstruck with its story both in prose and beautiful pencil drawings is a great reading and conversation book.  Or two – read the same books on your own time and talk about it, like a book club. This might work better for longer books and older kids.

Have your kids read to you. Little kids get a kick out of their new reading skills and like to show them off. Let them.  This could be at home or while riding in the car.  Busy mom tip – you can enjoy listening to Because of Winn-Dixie while folding clothes or prepping dinner.   You might even consider taking turns reading to each other.

Listen to audio books together. Pick a family-friendly book (depending on the ages of your kids) and pop in the CD, download to your iPad or whatever and listen while riding around or even while hanging out at home.  Hearing a story, like reading one, requires imagination – what does the character look like, where are they, what’s going on in the story – much more than watching a movie.  Listening as a family gives you a common activity to discuss and talk about.  It might even spur your kid to read other books by the same author or in the same genre.

Let your kids see you read. In your spare time, instead of checking Facebook, let your kid witness you reading a book, magazine, the newspaper.  You could even set aside a family reading time, like they do in school, where everyone finds a quiet corner and reads. (This worked well on those stuck in the house snow days.)

Go to the library. You’ve got to have books to read them, right? Get to the library on a regular basis, or if you prefer the bookstore, bricks and mortar or online, so they can select books they want to read.

I know – getting kids to read is sometime hard, especially with all the other non-reading distractions. But hopefully these tips will help a little bit.

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