Research shows that parents who are readers have kids who are readers. But even if books are not your thing, you can do a lot to help your kids succeed at reading.
Parents who rarely read, as well as parents who do not speak English, may think it's almost impossible to promote reading at home. The good news is that you can read to your kids in any language. Or, if you hate to read long books or novels, as long as your kids see you reading the newspaper or a magazine they'll get the message that reading is important in your home.
How to start making reading and literacy important at home:
- Show your kids that reading is important and enjoyable for YOU.
- Let them see you reading on your own time. Language and content are not important.
- Invite them to sit beside you as you both read your own books.
- Set up a weekly library trip to select books. Give them their own library card and attend readings at the library or bookstore.
- Exchange books with other families and start a neighbourhood or classroom book club.
- Check out the Read to Achieve program where public figures encourage children's literacy in the video section.
- Encourage having a pen pal. It's fun and a great way to learn about people and cultures from around the world!
- Show your kids how to keep a journal. Let them choose a notebook and special pen/pencil. Encourage them to write about anything they wish, adding pictures and drawing if they'd like.
- Get into a writing routine, such as establishing a time for writing in journals every evening to reflect on their day.
- Get them to read the labels on packages.
- Have them help in the kitchen by reading recipes aloud as you prepare dinner or by creating the evening menu.
- Write a letter or greeting card and mail or e-mail it to your child. This is great on special occasions like a birthday or graduation.
- Have reading materials in every room in the house.
- Select books carefully. Keep a large selection of different genres of books at home. This can often help pique the interest of a finicky child.
- Have a "library" bookshelf in your home and get your kids to be the librarians.
- Watch television or movies and play games that will encourage children to gain pre-reading skills, reading skills, writing skills and critical thinking skills.
- Don't give in to the pressure to "hyper-parent" your child and overload them.
- Continue the family tradition of spending some time with your kids reading every night before bedtime, even once they have learned to read on their own.
Helpful hints on reading to your child (ages 0-8):
- Allow your child to turn the pages and follow the words with their/your fingers.
- Ask your child to predict what might happen next.
- Use funny voices for the characters.
- Change parts of the story and encourage them to correct you.
- Take your time when reading. Don't rush. This should be a relaxing time for the both of you.
- Don't shy away from discussing the characters, plot, pictures and concepts in the book with your kids.
- Allow them to interrupt you to ask questions and encourage them to think about the story or talk about the pictures with pauses in the reading.
- Ask your grade one or older child to summarize the story, connect the plot to something in their lives, or to evaluate the story orally or through a written book review. Remember, literacy is about understanding!
How to make reading creative:
- Encourage your child to think outside the box by having them add parts to a story they already like.
- Begin brainstorming by creating silly stories about everyday events. Everyone can take a turn adding their own sentence to further the story.
- Have older children write down the 5 W's of their stories. The WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY will help them to create their own stories. Add detail and keep their stories organized.
- Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy and encourage your kids to use them while writing.
The more you incorporate books into your home, the more likely your children will see reading as a normal part of everyday life. Following just a few of the tips above will help your child become a life-long reader.