We know how important it is for children to love reading. How can parents best help their kids to really engage with literature so that reading becomes not just a habit, but also a lifetime source of enjoyment? Here are my six B's:
Be relevant -- make sure kids have access to books related to their interests and reading ability. Help them make connections from books to their own lives to aid comprehension and make stories relevant. If your child is desperate to read a book that's much too difficult, consider reading it aloud as a family serial, take turns reading aloud with your child, or read aloud at the same time as each other.
Be frequent -- read aloud to kids on a regular basis. Shop the bookstore or a garage sale as often as you can afford. Make those library visits (you guessed it!) regular and frequent. Having lots of books to choose from is just wonderful for young readers.
Be eclectic -- it's helpful if kids have access to a range of different formats and genres for reading. Audio books add a special dimension to a story, and provide real support for beginning readers. E-books read via a Kindle or iPad might appeal to our young readers. Devices like this make a space-saving way to store books, great for incidental reading moments when we're out and about with our children. Just like kids need a range of foods in their diets, they need to encounter non-fiction books, and different genres of fiction books.
Be a role model -- kids love to copy us so we need to ensure they see us reading and reacting to what we read. Grabbing your children's attention by sharing funny bits or images in your book or magazine is a great idea. If dads aren't comfortable reading a picture book aloud, they may be more at ease with discussing what's in a newspaper, talking about the illustrations in a non fiction text, or reading aloud from a sports magazine.
Be crafty -- children love to create art and construct. Having craft and art supplies at the ready after a shared read-aloud encourages kids to follow up the story and express their own ideas about it. Older children might like to make a diorama or set up a scene that depicts the world portrayed in their favorite novel.
Be supportive -- different children need different kinds of support. Some kids need help organizing themselves and their books -- they might need a task sheet mentioning library day, library bags, and books. Some children might want access to book reviews or trailers about books so they can find exciting new reading material. All kids need us to name them as readers, and to take their reading seriously. By listening to them talk about their books and read us "the good bits," we help them share the joy that reading brings.
What do you do to help engage your kids with literature? Share your suggestions on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.