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Encouraging Reading

As mentioned here, today is "Raise a Reader" Day. This has me thinking about how we, as parents, can encourage our children to read each and every day. Some suggestions that work in our house:

  • Need I say it - READ to your children. Every little bit counts. 10 minutes a day is all it takes! 
  • Read together - As they get older, take turns reading - start off by pointing out a common word and letting them say it aloud each time it appears, then progress to a sentence each, a page each, etc.
  •  Be a good role model - if you don't read for pleasure, why would your kids think it is fun? Let them see you reading as often as possible - even if that means just once a week. Even if you are not the type to tackle a novel, you could read the Saturday paper, or pick up Entertainment Weekly!
  • Encourage ANY reading - cereal boxes? TV Guide? DS game instructions? Street Signs? Its all good - its all reading! My older son started reading by trying to analyze nutrition information on cereal boxes (after learning about making healthy choices in school). I encouraged it by asking him the fat content or if there was any vitamin A.... as he became more confident he started looking for key words on the TV Guide channel, so he could PVR shows he liked, and now he is reading novels!
  • Insist on "Book Time" - before the Imps can have any screen time, they need to spend at least 1/2 hour "reading" their books, comics, or magazines. Whatever they are interested in - the goal is to let them enjoy it (and on that note, don't be a snob! If they want to read comic books, or Lego magazine, or "Sir Fartsalot" - let them!).
  • When they read aloud to you, don't interrupt the flow of their reading to correct every pronunciation mistake - just the ones that inhibit understanding (i.e.: if you are not looking at the words, can you understand what it is? If you can't, chances are they can't either). Ask questions every couple of pages to check for comprehension.
  • Encourage every effort to spell and write - when they want to write a note or a card, let them try to spell the words out phonetically. Don't worry about proper spelling at first - let them build their confidence that they can piece together the sounds a word makes. As they become more confident, you can suggest that "Ce you at ate" is a great effort and they have all the right sounds there, however an adult would write it as "See you at eight".
  • Let them instant message with their grandparents (with you supervising of course) - when my parents were in Florida, the Autobots chatted with my Dad frequently in Google chat.... not only were they expressing their thoughts, they were also attempting  to read Dad's responses to them.
  • Let them read in bed - I find my boys are much happier when I let them take a book or two (or five or eight) to bed. They still fall asleep in about 20 minutes, but they are also getting 15-20 minutes of quiet reading time. Looking at the pictures and words will help with word recognition. They'll progress at their own level. 
  • Read a novel to them - I read the Imps a chapter or two every night from a book that is a bit too wordy for them to tackle on their own. It keeps us all interested in what happens next, gives them the appreciation for the suspense of reading, and because it is slightly beyond their reading level, I feel I am introducing them to the next step. Try the Captain Underpants series, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid series!

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