by Patti Clark | Lakeshore VP of Research & Development
Reading with your child for just 20 minutes a day can have long-lasting benefits. Not only does reading together boost language and literacy skills that will prepare your child for success in school, but studies show that children who enjoy daily, shared reading experiences develop social skills and self-confidence—and are more likely to be successful in their future jobs and careers.
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Make reading fun and interactive.
Reading with your child isn’t just about saying words on a page. It’s also about sharing a pleasant and enjoyable time together—which helps your child associate reading with positive feelings and keeps your child coming back for more.
- One way to make reading an interactive experience is to let your child help select the books you read. Take a trip to the library and explore the bookshelves together. You might also try surprising your child occasionally with books left by the “book fairy.” The key is making it fun!
- Next, set aside a specific time to read each day. Your child will look forward to your time together and know it is a regular part of the day. Perhaps you’ll read every night before bedtime, snuggling up together. Or, you could try creating a special reading spot—like a tent or fort in your child’s room.
- As you read, talk about the story and ask questions, such as, What do you see on this page? What do you think will happen next? If different characters are speaking, try talking in silly voices to get your child super-engaged. If there are bold words in the text, point to them as you read to focus your child’s attention. After reading, encourage your child to draw pictures about the story and ask questions like, What was your favorite part? What would you have done differently if you were the king? Activities like these will help your child develop their vocabulary, comprehension skills and knowledge of letters and words.
Enjoy a good rhyme from time to time.
Nursery rhymes and other rhyming texts—like classic Dr. Seuss stories—have been loved by generations because they’re just plain fun to read! Stories with rhyming words grab kids’ attention and boost their enthusiasm for reading—while also building phonological awareness and memorization skills. Read rhyming texts together and build on the skills they introduce. Tell your child, Let’s think of other words that rhyme with “Peep” and “sheep.” Encourage your child to draw pictures of things that rhyme, such as rocks and socks, and store them in a shoebox. Once you have enough pictures, use them to play a rhyming memory game—laying the pictures facedown on the floor and taking turns trying to find a match.
Find reading opportunities in everyday life.
Even when you’re not sitting down and sharing a book together, you’ll discover that reading opportunities are all around you!
- In the grocery store, encourage your child to read produce signs, or point out words on food packages and magazines. You can even give your child a stack of coupons to play a treasure-hunt game—encouraging your child to find items in the store that match the words on the coupons.
- While driving in the car, draw your child’s attention to words on road signs and billboards. For longer trips, encourage your child to help you make a stack of alphabet cards using construction paper and crayons. During your trip, invite your child to find letters on road signs or storefronts that match the letters on the cards. You might even reward your child with a special treat if they can find 10 or more of the letters! Once you arrive at your destination, use the cards to spell your child’s name or to sound out simple words.
Incorporate arts and crafts.
Pictures in books make it easier for children to understand the meanings of printed words. You can go one step further by allowing children to make their own pictures to illustrate words! Invite your child to draw a picture of something he or she sees, such as a dog on a rug. Write the words “dog” and “rug” on the picture and practice reading them together. You can also invite your child to tear pictures out of old magazines and paste them onto paper. Write the corresponding words for each picture and bind the pages together in a book for your child to practice reading. Or, post the pictures on a wall or fridge where your child can see them every day—helping your child build print awareness.