Children don’t become avid readers overnight. To grow curious about the world and develop an appetite for learning, it’s essential that children be immersed in reading behaviors and material at home. After all, children spend the majority of their waking hours outside the classroom. So it’s up to those caregivers who “bookend” the school days to foster a literacy-forward environment.
“Families, communities, childcare programs all need to serve as reading role models for children,” says Jenni Brasington, national director of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at Scholastic Education. “The more we strengthen families’ capacity and confidence to support literacy development at home, the better outcomes will be.”
The good news is, it’s easy to be a reading role model for your child with these three strategies.
Read, read, read — even if it’s not always a book.
Children learn from modeling. Setting an example for your child as a lifelong reader will leave a vast impression.
“When children see adults reading a variety of books in the home, they are more likely to mirror that behavior,” says Judy Newman, executive vice president and president of Scholastic Book Clubs.
Don’t worry if you’re not picking up a book every day. Your children can learn vocabulary and comprehension skills through materials like newspapers, magazines, or even cereal boxes and recipes!
“I never saw my dad read a book, but he read the newspaper every day and always shared the comics with me,” says Brasington. “To this day, the first thing I reach for when I get a newspaper is the comics. The point is, parents can find a way to see themselves as readers — even with non-traditional literacy materials — and share or model this with their child.”
Use books as an opportunity to bond with your child.
Discuss your child’s interests, which are constantly changing, and guide them to books that speak to these interests.
Parents of frequent readers are 50 percent more likely than parents of infrequent readers to tout reading books for fun as important, according to the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report. And children sense the encouragement: More than 82 percent of frequent child readers ages 6 to 17 say nearly everyone they know reads, versus 34 percent of infrequent readers who can say the same.
This active participation in your child’s reading life may mean the difference between a frequent or infrequent reader down the line.
Provide access to books.
As children grow and begin to read independently, they will explore different types of reading formats, like chapter books and graphic novels. It’s important to provide your child steady access to a variety of titles as their curiosity guides them.
“Reading books from different genres aloud can only strengthen a child’s interest in varied types of texts,” Newman says.
Similarly, your young reader may choose a book that is just above their reading level. No problem: Seize the moment and carve out time for a read-aloud.
“If your child chooses a book that is above their reading level, you can support them by reading it orally,” Brasington says.
However you model reading engagement for your child, remember that reading can be practiced anywhere.
“It’s not so much about quantity, but how often we utilize the books and other literacy materials we have,” Brasington says.
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