Letting Your Child Choose…

Recently, I have been seeing articles about children’s attitude toward reading as they get older. As I think back to my own childhood, I remember loving books, going to the library, and spending time reading outside in the backyard. I also remember some of my classmates disdain for reading. I remember them saying it’s boring, it’s hard, it’s not fun, or they don’t have time. Much of what they said is echoed in this post from Reading is Fundamental.

Credit: Real Teacher of NY

Credit: Real Teacher of NY

Reuters recently posted an article that states a study that found when children choose books they want to read reading scores can improve. Researchers asked students in elementary grades to choose a books they wanted to read over the summer. The researchers also gave another group of students books to read but did not let them choose the titles. Based on a series of reading tests before and after summer break, the results showed students who had the opportunity to pick their own books had higher test scores than those who did not get to choose.

Students, especially those living in low-income neighborhoods, typically lose learning over the summer. This is what many educators call the “summer slide.” Researchers also noted, though, that it’s still important to provide preselected materials to readers in order to help them hone their reading and comprehension skills.

By offering your child choices, it gives him the freedom to find something within his own interests. If you are struggling to find something your child wants to read, here is a checklist of ideas from Scholastic:

  • Don’t pressure your child.
  • Make time to read and let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  • Try audiobooks. (Check out our awesome app HOOPLA for free audiobooks you can download to your smartphone or tablet.)
  • Read book reviews and find popular booklists, and then share them with your child.

Reading a Book Over and Over and Over Again Has Its Advantages

Today’s blog post is written by one of our SPARK Parent Partners. Corrinne recently attended a training called “The Power of Shared Reading.” Here is a summary of the information she learned…

Think about your child’s favorite book. Now think about the number of times you have read that book to your child. Re-reading a book over and over may be tiring for you, but it has some extremely important benefits!


Reading a book over and over helps teach comprehension. Go beyond simply reading the book. Focus on different early literacy skills each time you re-read a book.

During the first read, keep your child engaged and help him understand the story by focusing on the pictures. Ask your child to recall the “who’s” and “what’s” in the story.  Encourage him to retell the story to you using words such as first, next, and last.

When you re-read the book to your child, begin to encourage his participation during the reading.  Young children love to participate when you read a book to them. Allow your child to recite repeating phrases with you and let him shout out predictable words in books with rhyme.

During the next few reads, move your child’s attention to the print in the book. Point to the words as you are reading to draw his attention away from the pictures; this will also show them that we read from left to right. Talk about the letters in the title or teach him the meaning of an unfamiliar word from the story. Children’s books often put words and phrases in bold or a different font to help draw a child attention to the print.

As you continue to re-read the book, let your child take ownership of the repetitive words or phrases without your help. Take turns finding rhyming words in a book. Pick a letter and see if he can identify words in the story that start with the sound of that letter.

Don’t forget! Give your child a turn to read the book to you. He may make-up his own version of the story or even have the book memorized by now. He may even surprise you by reading some of the words in the book. There’s only one way to find how much he has learned, and that is by giving him the opportunity to show you.

There are many tools you can use to get the most out of storytime with your child. Illustrations, participation, verbal interaction, using written text, and allowing your child to tell the story himself are only a few ideas. What is your favorite thing to do while reading with your child?

Reading with Wiggly Children

IMG_3643In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing how to read with a wiggly child.

Picture this: A six-month old sits quietly in the arms of her father while he reads her favorite picture book, Night, Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. She reaches her fingers to touch the colorful illustrations. She helps turn the pages. She is attentive. She can’t wait to see what happens next.

Now picture this: A six-month old wiggles restlessly in the arms of his father while he attempts to read a book. He cries as dad tries to read the rhymes and turn the pages. He won’t sit still. crying babyReading to a young infant, toddler, preschooler, or high schooler can be quite the task.

Sometimes you might experience the child who loves to sit quietly and listen to you read. Other times it may feel like you are reading to yourself.

Children, no matter what their age, are wiggly. And that’s okay. While there is no fool-proof way to keep your child sitting in your arms patiently while you read, here are some tips you can follow.

1. Read age appropriate books. While you may love The Polar Express, your two-year-old probably won’t appreciate it quite as much. Wait until they are in school before attempting a book of this length or stick to just talking about the pictures. Dr. Seuss is a great author…but wait until preschool. Babies and toddlers should experience books with colorful pages, simple illustrations, and basic vocabulary and rhymes.

2. Create a routine. Read at the same time every day whether it’s bed time, bath time, or playtime.

3. Change the sound of your voice as you read. This doesn’t mean you have to practice new voices, it just means reading with inflection. Read with a whisper. Read with a loud voice. Read with a silly voice.

4. Read while you are sitting in a waiting room or standing in line. Always have a book with you. Or point to the words around you and read them aloud.

5. Don’t worry if your child isn’t sitting with you for the whole book. If you have a toddler and she loses interest, let her. You can keep reading–chances are she is still listening. Or set the book down and try again a little later or the next day. The most important tip we can share is to make sure reading is a positive experience. We never want children to feel frustrated or upset that it’s time to read.

March is National Read Aloud Month!

In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing the importance of reading aloud for just 15 minutes every day. Yes, just 15 minutes a day.

file-page1So find a favorite picture book and read it this month with your child. Share your favorite childhood chapter book with your child by reading a chapter a day. Let your child choose a new book from the library. And visit storytime as often as you can. In just 15 minutes a day, your child will learn a love a books and reading, gain knowledge, and he will get to spend quality time with you every day!