There are few things more heartwarming than when you find your children cozied up together and reading. Your kids are forming strong bonds over books and learning valuable lessons in literacy from each other — all while you get to step back and devote attention to the many things on your to-do list.
While parents get a much-needed break when siblings read together, there are incredible benefits for your children as well.
Benefits for Older Siblings
Older children often build confidence and critical literacy skills when they read to a younger sibling, according to 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.
“By taking the lead with reading books, older kids will likely feel admiration and respect from their younger sibling,” says Baicker. “And by spending time reading a book that’s perhaps ‘too young’ for them, they’ll be able to practice learning fluency on easier books.” This is one of many steps you can take to improve your child's reading fluency.
Benefits for Younger Siblings
Your younger child will also benefit by having an older brother or sister as a reading role model at home.
“They see good reading behaviors modeled for them,” says Baicker. “They can observe the ways that the older child corrects mistakes or stumbles through a tricky word.” It also exposes younger children to higher-level books they wouldn’t be able to read on their own.
To get started, discover the books kids of all ages love.
Let It Happen Naturally
Your children's bond from reading with each other will carry over to other activities outside of reading. That said, there may be times when your children don’t want to read together, and that’s completely normal.
“Don’t force it,” says Baicker. “You don’t want reading to become a chore, and especially not an issue of sibling resentment.”
To encourage your kids to read together, Baicker suggests picking a simple book that you can read to both of them — one your older child may want to take the reins with. She also recommends pulling your older child aside to explain all the benefits their younger brother or sister will experience by being read to. If your older child understands just how important reading to their younger sibling is, they may jump at the chance to have a positive influence.
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