When a child begins their reading journey, they not only have to develop important skills related to letter-sound recognition, vocabulary, and fluency, but they also have to build confidence in their reading ability.
Karen Baicker, executive director of the Yale Child Study Center-Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience and publisher for Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at Scholastic, says there are a few key things you can do at home to boost the confidence of your young reader.
These tips work particularly well with the new Raise a Reader sets — curated book collections that help children unlock critical skills. Baicker recommends themed book sets like these because when a child is familiar with a topic and its associated vocabulary, they’ll be more likely to reach for a similar book.
1. Be a reading role model for your child.
“You’ve noticed how your child wants to imitate everything you do, from jangling your car keys to holding your cell phone up to their ear,” says Baicker. “Let them see you reading books, too. That modeling will sink in, and they’ll get the idea that reading is something we do for pleasure.”
Flip through one of the funny stories from Raise a Reader Set: Side-Splitting Tales on your own (when you’re sure your little one will see you!) or ask to borrow one of their bedtime stories from the Raise a Reader Set: Bedtime Board Books after you’ve read to them at night. These little things help foster excitement around reading.
2. Make story time interactive.
It’s perfectly normal to feel silly growling, howling, and scowling your way through a book — but it’s what makes story time interactive and engaging. “Don’t be shy to ham it up,” says Baicker. “No one is watching but your child, who will be riveted!”
Take dramatic pauses, ask your child questions throughout the story, and add as many sound effects as you can. Not only will this help your child feel like an active participant in the story, but it’ll also improve their reading comprehension, because all of those extra effects provide context and help your child visualize what they’re hearing.
Reading the Raise a Reader Set: Cuddly Creatures Board Books is a great way to try on new character voices for interactive storytime.
3. Let them choose from a wide variety of books.
“Some reading experts promote the ‘ACT’ method for boosting literacy in schools, which stands for access, choice, and time,” says Baicker. “You can introduce ACT Storytime at home, too, by giving wide access to books, letting your child choose what they read, and devoting as much time as you can to reading.”
One way to get your child hooked on reading is by giving them the first books in a variety of different series, and letting them choose which ones they’d like to continue with. Try this with the Raise a Reader Set: Super Series Chapter Books (Ages 6 to 8), which includes the first books from five popular series like Geronimo Stilton and American Girl.
4. Use books to fuel your child's interests.
Baicker suggests following the lead of your child and picking multiple books related to their latest obsession, whether it’s unicorns or dragons. “You'll be honoring their interests while supporting their literacy development, increasing their knowledge, and building vocabulary all at the same time,” she says.
When you pick a book set that captures your child’s interest, they can more easily jump to another book on that topic, because they’ve already established background knowledge and related vocabulary.
Try this with the Raise a Reader Set: Adventure & Mystery (Ages 6-8) and the Raise a Reader Set: Dragons Series Starter Bundle (Ages 9-12).
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