One of the most fundamental ways to help children succeed in school and in life is to help them become strong readers. Here are several simple and fun ways parents can help promote a love of literacy in the home that will last a lifetime.
1. Read aloud to your child.
For many years, research has shown that reading aloud is the single most important activity for a child’s reading success, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents read to their children starting in infancy.
2. Create a print-rich environment in your home.
Research shows that the more reading materials children have in their homes, the more likely they are to succeed at reading. Fill your home with books, magazines and newspapers.
3. Help your child pick a book at the right level.
It’s good for children to explore a variety of books. However, elementary students also need independent practice at their reading level every day.
4. Make reading a priority.
Have at least one time during each day when children stop doing everything else and read.
5. Let them earn free stuff.
Some local and national businesses give freebies to kids for reading. My own two children have earned free cups of frozen yogurt at a local shop and free pizza lunches at a national chain restaurant. All they had to do was record the titles of the books they read on special bookmarks given out by the companies.
6. Carve out a cozy corner to read.
Whether it’s a reading tent, comfy bean bag chair, or some giant pillows, give your child a snug book nook for reading.
7. Partner with your public library.
The public library is a phenomenal resource for parents, with plenty of free activities, classes, and displays to get the entire family excited about reading.
8. Let your child get a library card.
Having their own library card gives children a sense of independence and may open the doors to a lifetime of reading – a priceless offer for a card that is free!
9. Encourage your child to try different genres.
Lead the way by reading aloud at least one book from each genre every year (historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, folktale, poetry, non-fiction, autobiography, biography, and realistic fiction.)
10. Search for “rare” words or words your child doesn’t know when you read aloud.
Build your child’s vocabulary by defining words in the text that your child might not know, or see if he or she can figure out what the word means from its context in the story.
11. Discover a fiction series that interests your child.
Many times I read the first book in a series aloud to my children, and then they become so interested, they finish the series on their own.
12. Read classics with your child.
Some good classics to try are The Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, Treasure Island, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Winnie the Pooh.
13. Volunteer to read aloud to your child’s class.
My daughter’s kindergarten teacher invited a “Mystery Reader” to her classroom on a regular basis. The Mystery Reader would knock on the door and the students waited excitedly to see which parent would be that day’s reader.
14. Make it a double feature.
Motivate kids to read by letting them watch movies that were made from the storylines of books. Many book/movie duos can be checked out from your public library. Some good ones to try are Because of Winn Dixie, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and a Wrinkle in Time.
15. Subscribe to a children’s magazine.
From National Geographic Kids, to Cobblestone and American Girl, there are a plethora of kids’ magazines to choose from.
Great Reading Resources for Parents
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Outlines why, how, and when to read aloud to children and includes a treasury of recommended books for kids of all ages.
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
After reading together for 100 consecutive nights, a father and his fourth-grade daughter continued their “streak” until she left for college.
Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin and Tsh Oxenreider
Includes a reading treasury of books from around the world.
Full of tips, resources and book recommendations for parents of kids of all ages and reading levels.
Not just for teachers, Scholastic has a section for parents that includes resources, book recommendations and more.
“Kids and Family Reading Report”-You can check this out at Scholastic.com
This website helps parents and educators encourage children’s endeavors in language arts. For grades K-12.
Under the website’s education tab, there is a reading and language section with tips, activities and resources for parents.
Great Reading Websites for Kids
Created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online features accomplished actors and actresses reading children’s books.
Children can read along with early readers or even write their own story.
Short Stories are read aloud while children follow along to highlighted text. Includes educational games for K-5.
Features a collection of original, fairytale and classic children’s stories.
Features reading games for kids.
Janeen Lewis is a mother, freelance journalist, teacher and avid reader. She has been published in several regional parenting publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales.