Almost 90 percent of parents save read-aloud time for just before bed, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. “Reading is a great transition activity between the end of a busy day and bedtime,” Baicker says. “Bedtime reading is wonderful, but other transition times are perfect, too — like when your child comes home from school, before any busy after-school activities, homework, or dinner begins.”
Other times of the day may work better for you and your little one to connect over reading. If mornings appeal to you and your child, you may want to try a morning book basket. Inspired by a homeschool concept, a book basket is a container (it doesn’t have to be a basket) that holds books and activities for you and your child to explore together before your days begin.
Establishing reading routines at any time of the day helps to create structure for your household as well. “The very act of sitting and reading regularly helps establish other routines, like getting ready for school the next day,” Baicker says.
Before you know it, you’ll have carved out a new window for slowing down and engaging in conversation. Remember, the more time you set aside for reading, the more likely your child is to fall in love with it.
One of the easiest ways to make reading time with your child fun and enjoyable is to really immerse yourselves in the story. “Use silly voices, act out different characters, and feel free to exaggerate some of the emotions with big belly laughs or sniffling ‘boo-hoo’s,” suggests Baicker. “Your child loves to laugh along with you, and will lean in closer for more fun.”
If you want bonding time to be fun but still educational, choose read-alouds that incorporate rhyming or repetition, as these strengthen phonological development (when kids are learning to connect sounds to words and spelling). “Pause and let your child chime in when there are repeated lines, rhyming words, or predictable patterns in the story,” Baicker says.
Giving your child your full attention helps build their confidence and self-esteem. Knowing you want to be in their company means the world to them, and they’ll respond to your role as an active listener. It’s a great time to ask your child about their interests and ambitions.
Start a conversation about the books your child is reading at home and in the classroom, and ask what they like most. This not only helps inform you of their current interests, but also challenges your child to articulate their opinions and exercise their reading comprehension.
Plus, knowing what they like helps you guide your child to new reading material, which puts you in the front row for seeing your child’s interests deepen and expand.
Scholastic experts agree that when it comes to reading together, worry less about your child’s progress or reading level and just enjoy the story. “Tip the balance way towards enjoyment and don’t rely on read-alouds to assess your child’s reading level,” Baicker says.
By acting as a reading role model yourself and creating time to read with your child, you are setting a strong enough example of the importance of literacy. “By sharing a love of reading, modeling engaged reading, and accessing books that your child can’t read independently, you’ll be doing far more to advance their reading levels than the benefits a home assessment would yield,” Baicker says.
When you do want an update on their literacy development, you can always check in with your child’s teacher. “If you have concerns, your child’s teacher can help advise you on how your child is growing as a reader,” Baicker says.
Looking for more tips? See all expert advice about establishing reading routines at home.
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