Some days I’m more “quirky” than others. This is one of those days. Instead of just telling you that your middle grade children (grades 4, 5, 6, 7) are not too old for you to keep up that nightly ritual of reading, I’ve made some alterations to a classic Journey song. You can laugh or roll your eyes, but the message will be the same. They’re getting older, but it doesn’t lessen their enthusiasm for books. Nor does it mean they don’t need us there to help them navigate some of the issues that their favourite characters are facing. Bottom line? Take fifteen minutes at the end of the night, curl up on someone’s bed, and keep reading.
Don’t Stop the Readin’ (adapted from Journey’s Don’t stop believin’– hardcore Journey fans…I’m sorry (ps: it helps if you listen to the song in the background softly so you can read with the beat)
Just a grade five girl
Readin’ bout’ a wizard world
She read the whole series
Loved the characters
Just a grade six boy
Thinks he doesn’t like to read
He found The Outsiders
Thinks he’s Ponyboy
His father comes into the room
The moon is out the day is done
For a while they can read tonight
It goes on and on and on and on
Learnin’ bout the Hunger Games,
Heroes like Percy
Quests and danger
Find out what your kids are lovin’
Read with them every night
Workin’ hard to pay the bills
One on one time is such a thrill
Read a story, talk about your day
It’s worth the time
Doesn’t matter what you read
Graphic novels, Patterson
The list can go on and on and on
They aren’t too old
Even in the middle grades
Let them read to you
Read to them
Make it matter
A great way to stay connected
Just fifteen minutes a night
Don’t stop the readin’
Hold on to that feelin’
With your children
Don’t stop the readin’
Sachar, Judy Blume
They keep you readin’
Keep on reading!
Storytime Standouts’ guest contributor shares her thoughts on reading with your kids and why it matters.
In the summer it is easy to let routines flounder. Well, if you’re exceptionally lucky and both you and your spouse are teachers and therefore have your vacation together as a whole family. We spend our days doing day trips, staying in pajamas, the girls playing while I write; it’s pretty sweet. The kids go to bed a little later, you socialize more so the bedtime routine isn’t always predictable. I’m often tempted to just tell my ten year old to go ahead and read on her own. My seven year old, with a great deal of warranted pride, always wants to read to us. She reads us her three stories with unique and funny accents and expressions that never fail to make me smile. My ten year old reads her own book, a series with her dad and a series with me. There’s no lack of reading going on in our house. She was given the green light to read the rest of the Harry Potter series this summer (something I was torn about allowing as she is only ten). This made it even more tempting to just say goodnight and get to the quiet time early. We could probably convince our seven year old to read to herself too in exchange for being allowed to stay up later, reading in her room. So why do we bother? Even, or maybe especially, in the summer when we feel lazy and carefree?
BECAUSE READING WITH YOUR KIDS MATTERS.
Because it’s a way to connect with them through something you can both enjoy.
Because it gives one on one time.
Because it gives a reason and topic for conversation.
Because it’s enjoyable for both of you.
Because it helps them to be better readers and listeners.
Because it engages their mind and imagination.
Because there’s nothing better than getting lost in a book with characters you adore and taking someone along for the ride.
Because in an age of “go-go-go”, stopping matters. Stop, sit, read with your kids.
Because as they get older, they won’t want you to lay on their bed beside them.
Because you never get this time back.
Because it will matter to them and they will look forward to the daily routine of mom or dad curled up beside them, sharing a story.
So why bother? Some days seem especially long but in reality, time speeds by and we need to do what we can to form strong bonds and relationships with our children. I love the opportunities that present themselves through reading with my girls, particularly the older one because it lets me see how she would problem solve or resolve an issue. “What do you think of the way they treated that girl?” “Have you ever been part of a rumor?” “What would you do if two friends were fighting over you?” We spend so much time figuring out how to teach our kids to be prepared for life and how to handle stress that we forget that some of those very lessons are in the books they’re reading. Rather than fearing what they may face in middle school and high school, I like having the opportunity, through books, to talk to them about things rather than lecture. It’s one more way to be proactive in helping your child be the strongest, most capable person they can be. And that’s our job.
Storytime Standouts shares ten great reasons to read aloud to your child
Reading aloud to my sons has been one of the highlights of being a parent. My boys are both teens now and have pretty much outgrown picture books (Christmas Eve is always an exception) but shared memories of trips to the library and hundreds of great bedtime stories read aloud will remain with us forever. Having said that, reading a couple of bedtime stories aloud, every night for seven or eight years is hard work. There were definitely nights where I would have happily ‘skipped’ and had a little more time to myself. I clearly remember, on more than one occasion, my younger son being wide awake at his bedtime while I was falling asleep as I attempted to read aloud to him. He would say, “Mommy, your voice sounds really strange.” I would rouse myself enough to finish the story and then head off to my own bed.
Curious George written and illustrated by H.A. Rey shows us that bold, uppercase letters mean the words are loud.
Let’s take a look at ten great reasons to read aloud to your child(ren)
When we read aloud to children, they (1) get to know books. They learn that books have front covers and back covers. The covers can be hard or soft/flexible. Books have spines and sometimes they wear jackets.
Sharing stories with children also helps them learn (2) how to hold and manipulate a book. When we read aloud to children, they discover how a book “works.” They come to understand that a book written in English is read from front to back and that we (gently) turn the pages as the story unfolds. They discover that, if we want, we can go back and reread a page, we can also skip a page.
Occasionally running a finger along the printed text will also help children learn that (3) pages are read from top to bottom and the text is read from left to right. With a little help from us, children will discover that bold words are often important to the story and usually we think of bold words or words shown in uppercase letters as LOUD WORDS.
If we read lift the flap books or pop up books, children will learn that (4) sometimes books have flaps or other features that hide the solution to a riddle or some other surprise.
Reading aloud also exposes children to the (5) beauty and richness of our language. Children will also gain (6)phonemic awareness as they discover how to play with words and sounds through rhyming and alliteration.
When hearing books read aloud, children (and adults) learn (7) new words and all sorts of wonderful (8) facts (especially when the children are wild about dinosaurs!)
Hearing a selection of books gives children an understanding of (9) what a story is , how a fairy tale is different from a fable and how tall tales exaggerate.
Hearing picture books read aloud can also enable children to (10) safely explore worrisome or difficult topics like going to the hospital or coping with illness, disability, bullying, or even the death of a loved one while safe in a loving and comfortable environment.
Christmas picture books are in a class of their own.
At home, we always keep our Christmas picture books separate from the rest of the piles. We pull them out in late November and tuck them away at the end of the season with all of the other decorations. Just like when we unwrap each ornament that has been packed away for a year, pulling out each story is equally exciting. We forget which ones we have over the year or which new ones we may have purchased at the end of the season and stored away. Over the years, we’ve read many different Christmas tales, but some stay with you throughout the season and beyond.
The Night Before Christmas illustration by Christian Birmingham
Here are some of my favourite Christmas picture books…
The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham Christmas picture book published by Running Press Kids
The classic tale that we all know; I love reading this every Christmas Eve. It makes me think of my mom, who recites the words along with me as I read because she knows it by heart. I love that the wonderment of Christmas is displayed through an adult’s eyes.
Are you Grumpy Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis Christmas Picture Book published by Disney-Hyperion
This is, hands down, one of the cutest Christmas books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Just like anyone else, Santa can only take so much and finally becomes grumpy when nothing goes his way. The rhyme and the pictures are great. It never fails to amuse me, regardless of how many times I read it.
Queen of Christmas by Mary Engelbreit Christmas picture book published by HarperCollins
I have always enjoyed Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations. I often buy calendars with her pictures because they are sweet and have nice phrases on them. I purchased this book a few years ago and the illustrations are beautiful. It’s the story of a young girl who is working hard to finish her incredibly long Christmas list before Christmas Eve. Of course, in the end, she learns it’s not what’s on the list that counts. When I purchased this book, it came with a paper doll and clothes, which my children love as much as the book.
Christmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer Christmas Pop Up Book published by Little, Brown and Company
My mom gave me this book a couple years ago. You are never too old for a good pop up book. Just this morning, my youngest opened one of the pages and said, “Wow! Mommy, look at this Christmassy page!” Featuring a number of different countries, it includes pull outs, interesting facts, and beautiful images.
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Christmas Picture Book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
I can’t help but love every Olivia book and pairing her with my favourite holiday is just a bonus. As they wait for Santa to finally arrive, Olivia finds many ways to help her mom. My favourite part is when she makes a special mini Christmas tree “centre piece”.
Aside from reading to my own children, I love the joy my students get from these picture books. Though we teach differently in the intermediate grades, there is no age, or grade, limit for enjoying these stories.
If we want to engage children in reading and grow great readers, we need to make daily practice with age appropriate books a priority.
I’m just back from a quick trip to the library. I had three books due today and didn’t want to rack up a fine. As I walked from the library, I passed a car with a wise bumper sticker: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” It reminded me of a lunchtime conversation I had with some friends earlier today. We were talking about kids (actually boys) who read and kids (also boys) who don’t. One of the men at the table remarked that his parents didn’t express any anxiety over whether he would read, it was just assumed that everyone in the house enjoyed reading and so they all read together. One of the women remarked that she has a friend whose kids don’t read at all. Both children are boys and they never pick up a book. Apparently, even TV Guide is a challenge for one of them. As a booklover, I view this as a tragedy, as a teacher, I am suspicious. (Actually, the teacher part of me also sees it as a tragedy.) Becoming a good reader requires at least two things: instruction and practice. Virtually every child receives instruction but I’m not convinced that every child receives adequate practice.
If we want to engage children in reading and grow great readers, we need to make daily practice with age appropriate books a priority. The trick is to find increasingly challenging books that captive and inspire. I will do my best to alert you to my favourites – please “chime in” with your own.
By the way, my rewrite of the bumper sticker would look something like this:
“If you can read, thank a teacher. If you want to read, thank a parent.”
When making presentations to parent groups and professional organizations, my goal is always the same: to inspire adults to read good books to children on a frequent basis.
I have two children and I began reading aloud to them when my oldest boy was 6 months. I continued reading two stories a day until the youngest was about 7 years old. (We still enjoy chapter books together.)
Believe it or not, I actually did the calculation:
8.5 years X 2 stories per day X 365 days = 6,205 bedtime stories! Unbelievable!
Selecting Great Bedtime Stories
We know as parents that we are going to read some books over and over again because our children will insist we do. The rest of the time, let’s do our best to find books that are worth reading.
Whether through this website or a Parent Ed session at your preschool, I want to help you discover some new books that will help your child…
• substantially grow his vocabulary. Remember, we tend to use the same words over and over again when we talk with our children. When we read aloud to them, they encounter new vocabulary. Here are some suggestions for picture books with rich language
• gain and awareness of rhyming and alliteration. Also known as ‘Phonemic Awareness,’ discovering that words are made up of sounds will help your child read and spell. Here are some suggestions for you to support your child’s phonemic awareness.
• learn about places and situations. Whether reading about Madeline’s life in Paris or Ping’s home in China, books take us to new and exciting places. They introduce situations that our children do not encounter personnally.
• explore the language and conventions of print. Children learn that English is read from left to right and from top to bottom. They may also learn that exclamation marks and bold print send a message to the reader.
• discover new information and ideas. Books are a great way for your child to learn about topics that interest them: dinosaurs, castles, robots and undersea creatures! Here are some non fiction picture books that we particularly recommend.
• become a good listener. Ah yes, you can be sure that your child’s teacher will be grateful for his attentiveness.
When selecting books for children we should look for
• respected authors and illustrators and their well-reviewed books
• good matches for our child’s interests (in my case it was, ‘Books about trucks!’)
• ways to connect books with life experiences (i.e. an upcoming trip or planting a garden)
Keep reading, I will do my very best to help you with selecting great bedtime stories.
Beyond Bedtime Stories by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead, Nell K. Duke and Annie M. Moses
Beyond Bedtime Stories is a very thorough exploration of ways parents can promote early literacy with young children. The authors address dozens of important questions like “What if a book contains words or ideas that I find offensive?” and “Should I teach my child to read before kindergarten?” Beyond Bedtime Stories also includes suggestions of ways to fill your home with books even if you are on a budget, how to improve comprehension and ways to promote literacy inside and outside your home.
This is a very worthwhile resource for young families, daycare and preschool settings.
Summer holidays have come to an end. This morning I am reflecting on how we spent our summers in the past and especially the years we spent reading aloud to preteens.
Often my summer days were filled with work, household chores and trying to keep my two sons reasonably happy. (Somehow the order of that list came out totally backwards!) My eldest boy has always been quite content reading and rereading books like Harry Potter. During the summer, he also enjoys swimming (with some computer time thrown in here and there). He’s an easy-going guy and always enjoys summer vacation. Basically, he is relaxed and happy in almost any situation.
My younger boy prefers activity. In past summers he has done woodworking, painted a birdhouse, worked on a crazy quilt, perfected his slap shot, gone to a basketball camp, gone to soccer camp, taken tennis lessons and played Wii games. He wants to be with his friends and to be kept busy with fun stuff ALL DAY LONG. Some days, it is enough to drive me up the wall.
Anyhow, during our summers, we went to the library every week end exchanged one week’s books for new ones. When choosing books, I often selected books with a movie tie-in. These are perfect for reading aloud to preteens.
Sometimes we were in a situation where each of us was reading a book independently and my husband and I were each reading a book aloud. It doesn’t bother any of us to have so many different books on the go at the same time. As long as the books are engaging, we love it! Books are a huge part of our family life and we often talk about the fun of snuggling into our sleeping bags and sharing a story while in our tent.
It is wonderful to think back to previous summers and the pleasure of sharing a shaded picnic blanket and a huge stack of picture books or sitting under the stars and listening to spooky ghost stories. We enjoy good books together and the boys still love to hear us read aloud.
Some favorite titles for reading aloud to preteens
Michelle Paver‘s series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. This is a particularly good series to share with reluctant readers. The chapters are short and exciting. Since sharing this with my own sons, I have recommended to several other moms and some middle grade teachers. Read more about this series here.
Do not miss the experience of sharing Harry Potter‘s magic with your children. Both of my sons have read the entire series. My husband and I read the first two or three books to them and they did the rest.
1 C softened butter or margarine
1 C golden sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C (all purpose) flour
1/2 Tsp baking soda
2 C semi sweet (or other) chocolate chips
Using an electric mixer, cream together (both) sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and the baking soda. Mix again. Add chocolate chips and stir by hand. Use a large spoon to drop unto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 or 325 (if convection) for about 12 minutes.
When you’ve read all the best-known novels for preteens, here are some lesser-known recommended chapter books
I work with a grade three girl who is a very good reader. She has read almost all of Roald Dahl’s books (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The B.F.G., etc.) and also E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. The question posed Wednesday was, “What shall I read next? What are your recommended chapter books for kids like me?”
Let’s take a look at some possibilities…
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt A great pick for summertime reading, this adventure is set in the 1880s and tells the story of a family who has found a source of eternal life. Very difficult decisions lie ahead as one of the boys falls in love with Winnie. She must decide between eternal life with him and a life that will come to an end.
Frindle (plus The Landry News, The Report Card) by Andrew Clements Nick has loads of ideas – he’s always trying to liven things up. His grade five teacher, known as The Lone Granger, is all business and unlikely to appreciate Nick’s antics. However, an early assignment to look up word definitions may just have potential: why not call a pen something else? How about using frindle instead?
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat I love this depiction of Mr. Mowat’s boyhood. He lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and had all manner of pets. His parents must have been amazing – imagine managing a household with a dog, gophers, snakes, owls and more. The chapter that describes the new minister’s tumultuous visit is one I will never forget.
The Nose from Jupiter (plus A Nose for Adventure & Noses Are Red) by Richard Scrimger Leave your scepticism at the door and enjoy the fun. Poor Alan is a mess, there is something not quite right. His nose is stuffy, considerably stuffier than usual. Norbert, an alien from Jupiter, is an unexpected, uninvited guest in Alan’s nose.
The Grade Four Reading Slump – parental awareness and action can have a huge impact
Children, when they reach about grade four, are vulnerable when it comes to reading. Typically, the books grade four children want to read are longer, the print may be smaller, there are fewer illustrations and readers may encounter tougher and/or altogether unfamiliar words.All of these factors may deter these children from wanting to read.
To avoid having middle grade children stop reading (or choose to read books that are meant for younger children), remember that it is best for you to continue reading books aloud even when your child is eight, nine or ten years old. Find an exciting children’s novel to share with your child and either alternate reading with your child or let your child sit back, listen, relax and savor the story. Drawn in by a great book and your enthusiasm for it, your child will be motivated to read increasingly challenging books. Series are especially great choices because children will often decide to read subsequent books independently. To a parent, the choice for a child to pick up book 2, 3 and 4 of a series signals, “Mission Accomplished.”
I once shocked a group of parents when I said that if I had a choice of reading to my child or listening to my child read, I would choose reading aloud to him (fortunately, the choice should never be necessary). The fact is, if we read aloud to our children, we will foster an appetite for great books and we will introduce fascinating characters, unusual settings, little-known historical and/or scientific facts and spectacular new vocabulary that will serve our children well. Also remember, the more your children observe you reading, the greater the likelihood that your child will reach for a book when he has an opportunity, successfully avoiding the dreaded Grade Four Reading Slump.
It is almost impossible to believe that the 2011/12 school year marks the tenth anniversary of Storytime Standouts. Indeed, I have been writing about the importance of reading aloud while introducing wonderful picture books for families for nearly a decade. My first column was dated April 2002 and included a review of Stella, Fairy of the Forest. I love letting parents and teachers know about wonderful children’s books just as much today as I did ten years ago. As well, I remain committed to sharing the importance of reading aloud to children whenever I have an opportunity to do so.
Given that this is a special anniversary for Storytime Standouts and since it is the start of a new school year, I want to share my suggestions for ensuring that young children mature into young adults who love to read…
• Start ‘em young -
Beginning at six months of age, every child should hear at least two picture books read aloud every day. If we begin when a child is still an infant, the baby gets used to the idea of snuggling close and enjoying a story. If we introduce stories when children are older and ‘on the move,’ it may be more difficult to entice them to cuddle with us, enjoy the story and the illustrations.
• Every day, no matter what -
Making time for stories, whether at bedtime or during the day, should be sacred. Even on busy days, when we are on holiday or when a babysitter is involved, enjoying two picture books every day is essential for youngsters. It is for this reason that bedtime stories should never be withdrawn as a form of discipline.
• Help your child learn words, concepts and lessons -
When children hear two stories a day, they will enjoy 730 stories in one year and 3650 stories in five years. Hearing more than three thousand stories in five years will introduce all sorts of delicious vocabulary, fascinating concepts, wonderful artwork and important lessons. If we delay reading aloud to our children, perhaps waiting until they are two years of age, we miss the opportunity to expose them to the vocabulary, concepts, artwork and lessons in more than one thousand picture books. If each story introduces just two new words… that means your child will have missed the opportunity to add more than two thousand words to her vocabulary.
• There is something for everyone -
Exploring the vast array of children’s books will be fun and rewarding for both you and your child. Visit your local library or book store and dive into the wealth of fairy tales, fables, tall tales, concept books, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, poetry, humor, lift the flap, wordless, fiction and nonfiction picture books. There is truly a picture book for every occasion.
• Make connections -
Encourage children to make connections with the books they hear read aloud. Whether starting school or visiting a pumpkin patch, dealing with a sibling or learning to ride a bike, there are picture books to match a young child’s experiences. Parents can enrich the read aloud experience by pausing to ask questions, “What do you think Little Red Riding Hood should do?” “Which version of The Three Bears did you like best?” “Which story book character do you like best? Lilly, Wemberly, Olivia…”
• Continue reading aloud -
Even once children have become independent readers, they will benefit from sharing a great book with you. Although it may be tempting to step aside when your child is eight years old and is reading chapter books independently, there are all sorts of wonderful novels for you to enjoy together. You and your children will remember and reference these shared books for years to come.
Dads reading to boys – making the difference between reluctant male readers and voracious readers
I’d really like to take credit for the fact that both my boys love a good book. My almost-twelve-year-old is a enthusiastic reader. He is currently reading one of the Lord of the Rings books. He is especially fond of history and knows far more about World War II than I do. Most of the information has been gained through reading; fiction, non fiction, magazines and newspapers.
My younger boy (9 years) is more of a “doer” than a “reader” but he knows a great story when he hears one and we still make time to share a book or a puzzle at bedtime.
I read books aloud to the boys from the time they were six months old. We trekked to storytime at the library and were constantly borrowing books “about trucks.” There is little doubt that I was the one who planted the reading seed and carried enough stacks of books back and forth, to and from the library, to nourish it.
Just a few years later, reading the first Harry Potter book to the boys was truly magical. We all loved the experience as a family but there was one particular moment I will always remember. My husband was headed out of town for a week and was most concerned that he might miss hearing part of the story read aloud. He cautioned us that we were not “allowed” to read ahead while he was away – he couldn’t bear the thought that he might miss even one minute of the read aloud experience.
The boys and I solved the problem by rereading four or five chapters of Harry Potter and then we all charged ahead when my husband returned.
I will always be grateful for the message my husband gave his boys; he has always been eager to enjoy a good book with them (another favorite series was Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing). But that particular incident was evidence of just how important reading with the boys is to him.
It is not at all unusual for parents of preteens to be frustrated by their boys’ lack of interest in reading. To those parents, I would say, get Dad involved in reading aloud and find wonderful books you can enjoy together. In some families, mom always reads the bedtime stories from a very young age. It can be very beneficial to change this up and for boys to observe men reading and enjoying great books. After all, we’d like our sons to choose to sit down with a great book from time to time.
If you are helping a child learn to read, this simple procedure might be the easiest way to decide if the chapter book your child is reading is ‘right’ for his or her reading level….
Ask your child to read a page aloud. Each time he struggles with a word, he should raise one finger. If he raises five or more fingers per page, the book is too difficult. However, if he raises fewer than five fingers, the book is probably a good choice.
Ideally, we would like our children to choose books the same way Goldilocks would; we’d like them to select books that are ‘just right’ rather than ‘too difficult’ or ‘too easy.’ Having said that, ‘easy’ can be relaxing – a bit like browsing through a magazine – something we all enjoy doing from time to time.
Remember, if a chapter book is too difficult for your child to read independently, it might be perfect for you to read aloud to your child.
When your child gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, here are some strategies we’d like her to use…
Begin by using the first letter(s) as a clue, then move further into the unfamiliar word. Try to “sound out” the word and then blend the sounds together.
Look at the pictures for clues. Especially in books for early readers, the pictures are intended to help tell the story.
Look at the “chunks” within the unfamiliar word. Perhaps part of the word is known and can act as a clue.
Consider what is happening in the story and what decide what might make sense.
Go back and read the sentence (or even the paragraph) from the beginning. Think about the story and what decide what might fit.
Listen to the words and decide if they sound ‘right.’
I first discovered Kate DiCamillo when I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Because of Winn-Dixie. Very late last night, I closed the cover on The Tale of Despereaux, a great read aloud chapter book. Winner of the John Newbery Medal, this is a wonderful tale. Throughout we are reminded that, ‘nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.‘ A delight from cover to cover, read it yourself or share it with children eight years and older. There are some decidedly dark scenes that could disturb younger children.
Following these steps when your child is a beginning reader will help him to become fluent and will enable you and your child to enjoy the learning to read experience together.
Click on the book covers for our post about using word families with a beginning reader.
1. Make reading part of every day. Without exception. Committing to share this special time with your child each and every day will help your child to see reading as valuable. Have your child read to you and make sure that you continue to read aloud to your child.
Remember: becoming a great reader requires practice and some children need more practice than others do. Don’t despair when reading doesn’t happen quickly or easily, learning to read is like learning to ride a bike or becoming a swimmer. If you choose to make reading a priority, your efforts will be rewarded.
2. Keep the read aloud experience happy, relaxed and comfortable. Cozy up near a good light and enjoy a snuggle. If your child is too tired to read aloud, let it go (for one day) and spend a couple of extra minutes reading aloud to her.
3. Help your child to find appealing books to read. Be sure to check out the selection at your public library or stop by your child’s classroom for suggestions. Do your best to find books that are “just right” for your child. You will be better at evaluating books than your child is so take an active role in assessing the level of difficulty.
In my experience, some of the “best” books are the ones that other children recommend. Positive “word of mouth” advertising can be a great motivator for a young reader.
4. Celebrate your child’s success with reading. Being able to read twenty words or a chapter book is a big deal! How about celebrating with a book worm cupcake or a trip to the library or a special bookmark or a new bookshelf? Perhaps the readers in your household are allowed to stay up fifteen minutes later than the non readers…
5. Remain patient and supportive. When your child encounters a tricky word, help with some strategies. If your child can’t manage the word, tell her the word and move on.
Raising a child who reads well and loves to pick up a book is a team effort. Parents can support young readers’ and writers’ formal learning by being involved and enthusiastic, providing encouragement and tools. Here are some ways you can help set the stage for reading success.
Download a free, printable PDF of this information
• Be a reader and a writer – make sure your children see you reading books for pleasure and information as well as writing letters or making lists.
•Read aloud to your children every day - even once they have learned how to read. Make it a priority to find great articles and engaging books to share with your family.
• Be flexible. Read when, where and how it suits your child. If your child won’t sit still, it is okay to play quietly or color a picture while listening.
• Write silly notes to your children. Print out riddles and add them to a lunch bag or hide them under a pillow.
• Have Grandma or Grandpa send emails, encourage your child to reply.
• Try a new recipe, read a map, solve a mystery, check out the comics or learn magic tricks together. Help your child realize the value of being a good reader.
• Hook your child with wonderful series booksor look for more books by a favourite author or illustrator.
• Encourage your child to notice and readenvironmental print(stop signs, entrance, exit, push and pull signs as well as labels on groceries or names of familiar stores).
• Listen to your children when they read (or when they pretend to read). Offer lots of encouragement to readers and writers of every age.
• If possible, have a basket of books, a well-placed reading light and a comfortable chair inviting young readers to curl up and enjoy a story.
• Keep writing implements; coloured pencils, erasers, rulers and paper handy. A stapler is also great for children who want to make their own books.
• Visit your public library regularly. Encourage your children to borrow fiction and non fiction books.
• Get to know your child’s school librarian and make sure the librarian knows your child’s ability and interests.
• Explore your community with your child. Background experiences help readers to understand. A child who has been to an aquarium or a farm will make connections when reading about sea creatures or baby piglets.
• Ask for recommendations and suggestions. Most libraries have lists of book recommendations. Check with friends and teachers and look at our picture book and chapter book recommendations. If you need help, send an email. We will gladly give you suggestions.
According to LitWorld.org, nearly 1 billion people entered this century unable to read a book or sign their name.
World Read Aloud Day is about showing the world that all people should be able to read and write. World Read Aloud Day enlists the support of children, teens and adults in celebrating the power of words. It is intended to create a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education along with access to books and technology.
We hope that by celebrating this day in communities around the globe, we will convey the message that all children have the right to read and to write and, by exchanging words and ideas, we can change the world.
I have the good fortune to share read alouds with children regularly in my classes. I always look for engaging stories that will hook my students. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a book that doesn’t just hook the kids – some books have children talking about the story a week later and begging for a reread. Zero Kisses for Me is one of those delightful books that children love to see, listen to and cheer about.
Life is tough when you’re “always being kissed.” When you’re kissed before you go out in the rain and when you’re kissed and called, “Honeybunch” or “Flower Bud.” By the end of the day, you can be “tired of being everybody’s tootsy-wootsy… huggy-bear… kissy-snooks.” You might even demand, “No more mush!” And, you might exclaim, “BLEAH” – the perfect word to make a story memorable and a great word for young children to hear and relish.
Fun illustrations add to the atmosphere in Zero Kisses for Me and convey the little bear’s determination and frustration beautifully. A great read aloud for boys and girls, aged four to six, especially those who enjoy many, many kisses each and every day. Although not a Valentine’s Day book, this would be a terrific choice to reach for on February 14th.
The Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor
Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small community. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire town. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town.
The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the problem.
A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.
Here are our answers to 10 frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children
Simply put, reading aloud to your children will positively effect them for the rest of their lives.
Reading aloud and sharing wonderful stories will make them laugh (and cry), expand their vocabulary, broaden their view of the world, teach them lessons, prepare them for formal reading instruction and create long lasting memories.
Here are my answers to ten frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children…
When should I start reading to my baby? Some people would say, “Start while the baby is still in the womb.” For me personally, I think six months is a good age. Ideally, starting to read to your child should happen before the baby is really mobile. Snuggle up and enjoy a couple of board books every day.
When can I stop reading to my child(ren)? My personal opinion is that you should continue reading aloud daily to your children (at least) until they are teens. We know that as children get older, the words, paragraphs and chapters become longer, there are fewer illustrations and the content is often more complex. If you continue to read to your child – even after he becomes an independent reader – you and he can enjoy books that are too challenging for him to read independently. This provides great motivation for him to continue reading
Who should read aloud to our children? Everyone! I would love to have parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles read aloud to children. Each adult can bring something special to the read aloud and/or storytelling experience. For boys, it is very valuable to have a male role model for reading. I know of one family where Dad reads the stories while Mom sits nearby and enjoys her own book. This is great for the children to observe.
What if my child won’t sit still for a story? Hearing the story is more important that sitting still for the story. Allow your child to bathe or colour or bounce a ball while you read aloud.
My child wants to hear the same story over and over again… I’m bored. What should I do? Read your child’s favorite story and then offer an incentive to listen to something different… “We can turn the light out now and you can go to sleep OR you can stay up late tonight and hear this new story!” My prediction is 9/10 children will want to stay up late to hear a new story.
I have two children, aged six and three. Can I read the same stories to them or do they each need their own stories? Ideally I would try to read stories to each BUT that may only be possible occasionally. Just do your best.
What if a book includes a word or idea that I object to? Rather than avoid the book altogether, use this as an opportunity to explain your objection to your child. Books can be great springboards for frank discussions about behavior, language and more.
My child likes those puzzle books but I find them really boring. What’s the point of those books? I Spy, Spot Seven, Can You See What I See? - type books help your child to notice small details and will also introduce new vocabulary. Enjoy in moderation.
Some of these fairy tales can be awfully scary… Is it okay to read them to my child? You’re right, witches and potions and monsters can be scary. Be guided by your child. If your child wants to hear you read a scary story, trying it while sitting comfortably with you enables them to enjoy a shiver of excitement in a safe setting, One of my fondest camping memories involves a campfire, a book of ghost stories and a flashlight!
English is not my first language. I am uncomfortable reading English to my children. What should I do? Books on tape or CD could help you and your child enjoy books together. Look for these at your local library. While you are at the library, find out about storytimes, many libraries offer several opportunities for children to hear stories read aloud. Wordless and almost wordless picture books may also be a good choice for you and your child. Finally, you will spend many years encouraging your child to try new things – I would encourage you to try reading at least one book to your child every day even though you may make mistakes.
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