A parents guide to encouraging reading

Thank you to the T.A.S.K. Team – Bit McLean, Nat Ryan and Patricia Incerti, for this week’s post.

Parents can have a marked impact on a student’s success with learning to read.

Parents often ask us what they can do to encourage their children to develop a love for reading and so the TASK Team have put together a number of suggestions that may help:

1. Listen and talk to your child; ask them lots of questions about topics they find interesting. Tell them stories about your family history and ask them to retell stories, poems or songs that they have heard and enjoyed. Compliment them on interesting vocabulary that they use or good rhymes that they come up with. Ask them to make up stories for you. Write these down as they are spoken and turn them into simple books that your child can illustrate. Date them and keep them to reread later.

2. Encourage writing of any sort that interests your child. Whether it is practising letter formation, finding rhyming words, writing a diary or listing their favourite things it is all helpful. Try writing little notes to your child and seeing how long it takes for them to return the favour.

3. Read the books that you enjoyed as a child to them and explain why you loved these books afterwards. Seeing you read novels, magazines or newspapers lets them know that you think reading is a pleasurable, valuable pastime. Play word games, like Hangman or Scrabble, with your child and do some easy crosswords together.

4. Discuss the books they read or the books that you read to them. Answer questions that they have about the characters, the setting or the plot and ask them similar questions about their favourite books. Ask them to predict what may happen as the storyline develops. Compare and contrast books and characters and authors’ intentions. Ask them about different ways that a book may have ended. Have them retell stories days after reading. Thinking about texts and the ideas within them becomes more and more important.

5. Try to have fun while reading with or to your child. Encourage expression and the appropriate use of volume and pace. Read lots of different types of texts including fiction or non-fiction books, fantasy, newspaper articles, poems or cards from family members. Visit the library so that they can choose books that interest them. Ask your child to read books with character voices and read their favourite books to them over and over for as long as they find them enjoyable. Don’t choose books that are too difficult and be on hand to help your child with tricky words or meaning. Improving confidence is very important. Always praise efforts and progress.

6. Give your child thinking time. If they stop at a difficult word count to five in your head slowly so that they have time to work out the word. If they arrive at the right word on their own congratulate them. If not, prompt them to sound it out, look for clues in pictures, try to see which word would make sense or look at the first or final sounds to help them. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts tell them the word and ask them to look at the word while repeating it.

7. Ask them to read information to help in daily life. Things such as menus, cards, timetables, recipes and street or shop signs are always available as sources to motivate young readers. Asking them to help you by looking up maps, atlases or dictionaries would also give them a sense of achievement once they have mastered how to use such resources.

8. Fit reading into your daily routine. Even if you have a busy day try to find fifteen minutes when you can devote your full attention to listening to your child read. Take books with you to read while waiting for appointments, when other siblings are taking lessons or so relatives can listen to your child reading. Keep reading with them as they become more fluent as readers. The choice of challenging, interesting books will mean that they continue to develop their comprehension skills and are more likely to develop into lifelong readers.

We hope that we have motivated you to try some of these tips. Happy reading!
The T.A.S.K. Team (Nat Ryan, Patricia Incerti and Bit McLean)

Want more? See our previous posts about reading comprehension, learning to read, book suggestions here and here, books that you and your child may have both read, or by simply searching using the ‘reading’ tag.

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