When you help your kids love books and reading, you also give them the wings they need to fly successfully into the world of writing.
During the important elementary years, your children are developing the ability to read well and learning to form a positive attitude toward reading. You have the amazing privilege of shaping their hearts to embrace reading as a natural and desirable part of their world.
Reading Together Can Help Kids Learn to Love Books
Some parents mistakenly think that when children become old enough to acquire basic reading skills, it’s time to pack them off and send them away into the land of independent reading. Yes, it’s important for them to build strong reading skills by reading on their own, but these preteen years are also perfect for building reading fluency and growing your kids as readers—and writers—by reading aloud to them.
1. Read aloud daily to your children.
If you have the margin, read together for a half hour each day. Don’t have 30 minutes? That’s okay! Reading with your child for even just10 minutes a day can have a profound influence on their development.
We read aloud to our children from their earliest years on up through junior high. Even our girls, who were avid independent readers at a young age, still cherished these daily reading sessions as they got older. Our selection of books grew as they matured, and we exposed them to books they probably wouldn’t have tackled alone at this age.
Choose full-length books and read them aloud to your preteens from beginning to end, day after glorious day. Pick humorous books, adventure stories, and popular titles your kids want to hear. Devour classics together such as Farmer Boy, The Hobbit, Treasure Island, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
At home or on a family road trip, listen to audio books. Audible has a great collection of best family audio books for all ages to get you started. Some children enjoy reading along in the book version as they listen to the audios.
2. Make reading books a good place to be.
Create an engaging and enchanting environment for reading aloud to your children.
- Read to your children as they eat lunch.
- Develop a bedtime read-aloud ritual.
- Grab a book and snuggle up on the couch.
- Visit a farm, climb a hayloft, settle down in a comfy pile of hay, and read Charlotte’s Web aloud to them.
- Go on a picnic to an outdoor spot with a beautiful view and read from Anne of Green Gables.
- Carry a backpack with portable art supplies. While your kids paint the scenery, read aloud from a collection of poems such as Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost.
- Go to other unexpected or exotic places, such as a botanical garden or seashore, and let your children experience the sounds and smells around them as you read.
Reading Alone Builds Friendship with Books
Of course, elementary-age kids also benefit from independent reading. You can help make this experience a highlight of their childhood memories!
3. Decorate your home to be a nest for books.
- Start by giving beautiful hardback children’s classics and boxed sets as birthday and holiday gifts.
- Install bookshelves for rows of family favorites.
- Scatter square baskets or crates around different rooms to hold short stacks of books handy for small hands to reach in and grab.
- Provide reading spots with good lighting and comfortable chairs, beanbags, or couches.
4. Turn off the TV.
Unplug the video games. Turn off the tablets and iPods. To help your kids grow in their love for reading, invite everyone to grab books and settle in for some down time with a good read. If reading isn’t an everyday part of your normal routine, schedule it in. Show your kids reading is a priority in a world jam-packed with the stresses of organized sports, distracting TV shows, and time-consuming responsibilities. Stop what you’re doing and read when they read, too.
5. Go to the library. A lot!
Get children their own library cards. Give them their own canvas book bags to lug their selections home and to provide a place to gather books together again when the due date looms near.
While they’re busy choosing titles from the library shelves, also look for books geared for their level of independent reading. Most libraries offer many titles of beginning readers and first chapter books for both struggling and advanced readers. Ask the librarian about hi-lo books, which contain themes and topics of interest for kids in upper elementary but use vocabulary words and sentence structure for lower reading levels.
Select a wide variety of books geared specifically for each child’s independent reading level. These will help them gain confidence and strengthen their reading skills. If you’re not sure where to look, try these ideas:
- Ask your librarian for help.
- Using the library’s (or your home) computer, visit a webpage such as Leveled Book Lists to find lists of books for different reading levels.
- To find out the reading or interest level of a particular book, try Scholastic’s Teacher Book Wizard.
Of course, always use discretion to ensure each book meets with your family’s standards and values.
While at the library, choose some titles for your own enjoyment as well. Show your children that reading is important by modeling reading yourself. While you’re at it, visit the library’s used bookstore and purchase titles to build your family’s personal library.
DID YOU KNOW?
✔️ WriteShop Primary uses picture books as a way to help K-3rd graders make a connection between reading and writing. Every lesson helps you prepare your child to write by reading a theme-related picture book together.
✔️ WriteShop Junior offers genre-specific book lists for many lessons. For example, you might be asked to find a mystery, historical fiction, or adventure story that corresponds to the writing assignment. Additionally, Teacher’s Guides include a number of lesson-related book list suggestions and online literature sources for your 4th-7th graders.
6. Look for reading enrichment activities.
These suggestions don’t take the place of reading, but they enhance the environment you’re creating in your home.
- Give your children magazine subscriptions for their birthday.
- Let them write creative, out-of-the-box book reports as a homeschool activity.
- Invite the kids to produce a play based on a favorite book or chapter.
- Making up stories is an amazing way to encourage imagination while developing critical thinking skills and creativity. If storytelling doesn’t come naturally, try using creative story cards. WriteShop publishes StoryBuilders sets and spinners that are perfect for launching a silly story or a tale of great adventure! Try these for starters:
Adventure Builder StoryBuilders
Fantasy and Fairy Tales StoryBuilders
World of Animals StoryBuilders – Extra fun for younger children!
This tips will help your child’s reading and writing skills to blossom during these crucial formative years. Are you ready to dive into the world of books?