6 Simple Tips to Encourage Young Readers
One of the best ways parents can help develop young children’s reading skills is to read to and with them. With this in mind, we encourage you to support Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign, which promotes early childhood education. We hope you and your family will participate by reading Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad on October 4, as we strive to break the record for the world’s largest shared reading experience.
Here are some great tips to help you enhance your children’s learning while reading together on October 4 and throughout the year.
If you let your kids select titles that interest them, they will be more likely to focus fully, understand, and ask questions—in other words, engage completely in the learning process.
Many children also enjoy hearing classic stories that were their parents’ childhood favorites.
Reread favorite stories while introducing new titles.
Parents often find themselves reading the same story over and over at their children’s request. This is actually a good habit! Rereading supports numerous literacy skills, so continue doing it, while also adding new books. Repetition helps children begin to identify sight words and remember new vocabulary. Book series that feature the same characters in similar plots also build on this familiarity. Young readers gain a sense of accomplishment and comfort from knowing the outcome of familiar tales.
Ask open-ended questions about the story.
Questions are a great way to promote reading comprehension. Open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” are most effective. Next time you’re reading together, pause during the story to ask, “Why do you think the character did that?” or “How do you think that made the character feel?” Ask your children to think about what’s happened so far in the story and predict what might happen next. You may be surprised by what they say!
Demonstrate the thinking process.
Another effective way to support comprehension is to help children learn how to think their way through a story. To get started, show them how it’s done by speaking your thoughts aloud. Then encourage your children to discuss the story themselves, prompting them to start with a phrase such as “I’m thinking about…” or “This story reminds me of…” or “I wonder….” When you initiate discussions this way, it will help children make connections between their personal experiences and the stories they read.
Acknowledge vocabulary words.
As you read, draw attention to unfamiliar vocabulary. Have children make “educated guesses” about the meanings of these words based on context— the surrounding sentences and phrases—then reread the passages to see if they make sense. Understanding vocabulary in context is a skill students will use again and again, so be sure to practice this often. Naturally, you can define words your kids are unable to guess. You may also want to follow up at the end of the story by reviewing the new words.
If your children are already proficient readers, continue reading together.
Children’s listening comprehension levels are often higher than their independent reading levels. This means you can read aloud from books that are more challenging than those your kids can read on their own. These tougher titles provide ideal opportunities to practice the think-aloud tips listed above. Alternatively, if you choose a simple, familiar book, your child can enjoy the role reversal of reading to a parent while gaining confidence reading aloud.
Sharing a good book reinforces the reading experience as a fun, family moment, and using these tips will give you so many ways to enrich your child’s education. With a spirit of fun and a bit of creativity, you can transform story time into an opportunity for closeness and sharing, as well as a cherished family tradition.
Reading ability is vital to success in life. How have you gotten your children more interested and involved in reading? Share your creative and fun ideas in the comments.