Parents are key partners to support their children as they grow and develop as readers. The reading journey begins from the time parents spend reading to their children, reading with their children, talking about books, and experiencing the joy of a good book.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” --Emilie Buchwald
One of the greatest gifts any parent can give a child is to impart to them a love of reading. Here are a few simple ways parents can support their child’s reading development.
Read aloud to them...
Reading aloud with your child is a simple routine that can be built into each day that not only helps a child with their reading but also nurtures a bond between parent and child.
Choose a Variety of Texts
When reading aloud with your child, choose a variety of texts that you can explore together. Introduce your child to new genres, new authors, or a series of books that are not familiar to your child. Help your child to explore genres that they may not have previously engaged in.
Read Aloud and Think Aloud
Share your thinking with your child as you read a book aloud. Articulate what you are thinking about the characters, the setting, the plot, what you are learning, or even what you are wondering. Demonstrate for your child how you think about what is happening in the text and how you make connections to your own life. Encourage your child to share their thinking and learning with you.
Here are some of the sentence stems that you might use when thinking aloud:
- This character reminds me of …..
- I think this character is learning…
- This character does not look happy.
- I think this word might mean…
- This makes me think about…
- I wonder what’s going to happen next.
Create a Read Aloud Routine
Making read aloud a part your routine can show your child that reading is something to be valued along with the one-on-one time with a parent. For many children, the daily read aloud time is the biggest joy of the day. It is a time free from phone screens and time where the child receives undivided attention from a parent. It is also a time to explore new books, to share an experience, and to grow their abilities as readers.
Talk to them...
Talking about books matters. It provides time for children to process what is happening, to voice what they are thinking about characters, to talk about how the problem has grown and how the character might have changed, and what they might be feeling about the content. Talking about the information in books also helps students to recall and organize their understanding of informational texts.
When talking with your child, focus on the quality of the talk. It is not about the language that is used to express the ideas, instead it is about the thoughts and ideas that are shared. Let your child disagree with your point of view. Encourage them to say more about their point of view and to give evidence to support their thinking. Let them know that you value their thoughts and opinions.
Celebrate their reading identity...
Acknowledge and support what your child likes to read. Provide your child with the opportunity to choose material that interests and engages them as a reader. Celebrate the topics that interest and excite them. This can be quite motivational for a reader when they are able to read books that pique their interest. However, this can feel difficult when you and your child have different thoughts about what to read during this time. It is a time of growth and exploration, so encourage them read a variety of books, or negotiate with your child.
There is much value in establishing a daily routine for reading aloud and thinking aloud about books with your child. It is a special time when a child can connect with a parent and together, they can escape to a faraway place, explore the planets, imagine life in the past, laugh together, cry together, learn together, and most of all, grow their love of reading.