Updated: Aug 1, 2020
By former teacher, Renée Cullum
Imagine this... You and your child are cozied up on the couch. Both of you snuggled under the same warm blanket. You have a warm cup of tea and your child has a full glass of water. You open up your favorite book from childhood to finally share with your child. You and your child are swept away into the adventurous world of literacy. Both of you are relaxed and carefree as you enjoy an engaging book while building their reading skills.
Is that your reality? If it is, then you are one of the lucky few. Sometimes reading with your child can be stressful. We question if we are doing the right thing. We wonder if we are helping our child with their reading at all!
Below are FIVE tips you can use when reading with your child, no experience required.
TIP #1 TALK ABOUT THE BOOK & WORDS
No, I don't mean just reading. Don't be afraid to have a conversation. Talk about the book before, during, and after reading. Start by discussing the title of the book. Make predictions of what you think it will be about. Access what your child already knows about the topic, by having them create a list things that relate to the book. While reading, stop and discuss what has been happening in the book (more in Tip#2). Stop and look at different words. Point to these words as you describe them. Talk about the sounds that make the word (more in Tip #4). After reading, have your children tell you in five sentences or less what happened in the book (more in Tip#5).
TIP #2 ASK QUESTIONS
While you are reading with your child, stop and ask questions. Below are some of our (Learning Ovations) favorite questions that can be used with any book! Use a couple of these question prompts when reading. Do not feel like you need to ask ALL of the questions.. That is too many. Look at the list and choice a couple you like and ask away! Just by asking questions you are helping build up your child's reading comprehension and knowledge. Go you!!
TIP #3 TAKE TURNS
When reading with your child, take turns. You can do this several different ways. You can take turns reading paragraphs, pages, or even the entire book (shorter picture books). When reading to your child, use emotion and tone! Really get into the book. This will show your child that reading is fun and meant to be enjoyed! Then, have your child read some of the book. See if they can match your emotion and tone.
TIP #4 SOUND OUT WORDS
When your child comes to a word they do not know, use this as an opportunity to break it down. Start with the beginning sound and have your child try and say the first sound. You can say the sound with them. If they do not know the sound, don't make them guess just tell them. Work your way through the
whole word, breaking it down sound by sound. Then putting together all the sounds to read the word. Be patient. *If your child comes across several words in a row they do not know, this book may be too challenging for them.
TIP #5 AFTER READING ACTIVITY
When you finish a book, be sure to complete a follow up activity. Nothing fancy! But, something to engage them and have them think about the book they just read with you. This can even be a time for your child to get creative!!
Here are some ideas:
Write a sequel (or the next story) to the book
Write a new ending
Draw a picture of your favorite part
Write a letter to your favorite character
Find a word(s) in the book and list all rhyming words
Use the sentence starter "I liked this book because_____" and list reasons
Reading with your child, or any child, is very important. Although some of us run into insecurities when we first open a book. Remember it is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to try something new, be open and excited! And most importantly, let's show our children the love of reading! As a parent (or aunt/uncle, grandparent, friend, peer), the one thing you can do, without any teaching experience, is expose children to a wide variety of books. AND Let them see you reading!
For more on this topic and other learning opportunities.. Check out our other blog written by Dr. Carol Connor here!