6 March 2009 10:58 AM

Family Reading Activities

by Dr. Rick

I can't think of any better family activities than reading together.  Reading together as a family is fun, it's inexpensive, and it's beneficial to everyone.  What's not to like?  Here are a few tips about how to make family reading time a regular part of your family's entertainment.


1.  Have Read-Aloud Nights.  Take turns choosing what books to read.  Kids love to have a hand in what the family will read together.  Then, take turns reading.  Give everyone a turn.  If a young reader needs some practice time beforehand, that's fair.  Read with expression to make the stories come alive.


2.  Have regular visits to the neighborhood library.  Give children time to browse in their favorite sections.  Check with the children's librarian about the best and newest selections, suggestions for your family's needs, your child's interests.  Show enthusiasm about your child's books.  Talk about them.  Ask conversation-starting questions.


3.  Share favorite books and stories.  Kids love to tell you about their favorite books and stories.  I was reading to second-graders just this week, and I asked for their favorites.  Little hands immediately shot into the air, eager to answer my question.  Here's a sample of what they told me.  Captain Underpants books, of course.  Fantasy.  Books about animals, cars and trucks, and sports.  Funny books.  Scary books, "but not too scary."  Chapter books.  Books about famous people.


4.  Share intergenerational favorites.  Kids like telling you about their favorites, but they also are curious about yours when you were their age.  What were your favorite childhood books and stories?  Get Grandma into the act, too, as well as Favorite Aunt Heather and Fun Uncle Evan.  What about older brothers and sisters?  They're already role models, so their favorites are interesting.  Then, read those books together during one of your Read-Aloud Nights.


5.  Make up alternate endings or scenes.  What would happen if . . . ?  Re-arrange some scenes and have the kids put them in their proper sequence.  They love that, and it's a good check for their attention and understanding.


6.  Act out scenes or write simple songs about the books.  Make simple sets and costumes.  Kids love the creativity, the activity, the fun.  Kids are motivated most and learn best when they're active and can use their imaginations.


7.  Check out cool kids' reading web sites like www.bookadventure.com or, for parents, the posts about reading in my own blog, www.drrickblog.com.


8.  Pledge to read as a family during Read Across America at www.sylvanlearning.com/readacrossamerica.


9.  Check out useful reading products, like Sylvan Learning's new reading, writing, and spelling workbooks at www.randomhouse.com/sylvanlearningbookstore.  If your kids need practice – and who doesn’t? – these books could be just the thing.


10.  Be a positive reading role model.  Let your kids see you reading daily as you read for information or just for the fun of it.  When I was with those second-graders this week, one told me he loved to read but he's also interested in his 15-year-old brother's rap music.  "It has some bad words in it, though," he told me.  "I don't like those words."  But I could tell he's curious, and the temptation to be like his older brother is strong.  We have children's undivided attention for such a short amount of time.  Use it wisely to help them establish healthy habits and attitudes about reading, ones that will keep them strong even when, inevitably, music with "bad words" creeps into their lives.


What activities does your family engage in to encourage the important habit of reading?  We’d love to hear about them.  Simply click on the “comment” button below to share your successes with us.





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