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Reading as a family



4 tips nurture kids' literacy and love for books

reading, family, kids, literacy

At school, reading may seem like a subject to be studied, but family reading activities make it clear to kids that reading is part of everyday life. And literacy lessons embedded in life can be fun, rather than a chore, for both parents and children. Amber Covington, a North Carolina librarian, suggests ways to get kids reading at home.

Family reading time. Set aside time for the family to read together, preferably on a daily or weekly schedule. Read picture books to the little ones. Elementary-age kids may enjoy taking turns reading aloud from chapter books. If your kids are older, find a room where each family member can sit and read their own book or magazine for half an hour. If your child is studying a foreign language, have them read and explain a picture book in that language to the rest of the family.

Use technology! One way to get a pre-reader to notice words is to turn on the captions of video movies and TV shows. As the words appear, an observant child will begin to match up the captions with the words spoken by the characters onscreen. For kids who are already reading, the captions can help build vocabulary. (Editor’s Note: I find that when I follow captions, I lose the impact of the scenes I am watching. That is why I tend to stay away from foreign files. Try it and see how it impacts viewing for your family.)

READ MORE: Family read-alouds: Fun with poetry

Let kids order online. Many of us are increasingly ordering items online, and children can help by browsing through images and descriptions, applying their reading skills for a practical purpose. 

Read as you ride. When riding in the car, kids have abundant opportunities to read. Encourage them to report what they can understand of the printing on billboards and road signs. Just noticing the colors and shapes can get them started, as they will recognize brands and the words associated with them. Ask older kids to explain the meanings of street signs, providing chances for you to explain the rules of driving and pedestrian behavior. Kids of all ages can peruse the pictures and words at the fast-food drive-through. Have them read the choices aloud and help with ordering, which also provides opportunities for practicing numerical literacy.

As you go through your day, you'll probably think of more ways to engage kids in reading practice. Have fun and be creative!



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