For many families, it's the same daily, after-dinner routine: play and relax, then bath, books, and bedtime.
Some people mix it up by adding a good-night song (or two) in there, but we never added that gem into our schedule. Unfailingly, though, bath, books, and bed are the norm for many families of young children, which is a wonderful way of introducing books and literacy to young ones.
However, once kids walk through the big doors of elementary school, it seems like that pattern of bath-books-bed comes to a screeching halt. Sure, kids are still (thankfully) jumping in the bath or shower, but then usually straight to bed to read on their own afterward.
It is still so important that parents read with children, even as children enter those exciting elementary-school years.
Here are three reasons to read with your elementary schooler every night:
- Time together. The number one reason for reading each night is quality time together. Period. Life gets nuts when kids go to elementary school. Between homework, lessons, classes, and meetings, it's a crazy time. But carving out that small amount of time—even if it's 10-15 minutes, which is just enough time to read one chapter of a book—is totally worth scheduling into your day. I'm betting payoffs for this small, scheduled “date” with your child will be big in the long-term.
- Listening to fluent reading. If you choose to do the reading, which I strongly suggest you do, then this time together allows your child to listen to what fluent reading should sound like. You don't need to go crazy with voices and sounds—just read naturally and normally. The more your younger readers hear what fluent reading should sound like, the better! It reminds them how their reading should sound.
- Talking about texts. It doesn't need to be an in-depth discussion about characters, plotline, or style, but you may be surprised at how your conversations evolve after you read together for some time. You can begin by just “thinking aloud”—every few pages, share your thoughts about the text out loud, kind of like a built-in commentary. Your child will hear how you think about and process text as you read, and soon it will become habitual for him or her to do the same. Over time, incorporate questions or thought-provoking statements and involve your child.
Are you convinced? I hope so! Tonight, grab two books, and ask your child to choose one. Start reading, and you'll be glad you did. It will all help to develop relationships, critical thinking, and better reading comprehension!