Get into the reading habit and start a family tradition! At least once or twice a week, turn off your TVs and streaming devices and grab a book, a magazine or your e-reader for a family reading night! You can even download an audiobook or podcast! The goal: to celebrate reading!
Reading helps us to stay in touch, be informed and escape into great stories. Reading together is a positive experience for children and adults. Families create happy memories around books and stories. And when you schedule regular dedicated family reading time, you demonstrate to your children that you value reading. Use the time to talk and laugh, connect and bond.
According to Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report, most parents agreed that it was important to read to their young children. However, only 58% of parents actually read to their preschool-aged children five to seven days each week. Sadly, as children grow older, families read together even less. Only 21% of surveyed parents regularly read with their nine to 11-year-olds. Family reading time is the perfect way to focus on building family reading routines with children and teens of all ages.
Here are a few activities to celebrate family reading every day:
- Gather everyone together for a family book club. Choose a short chapter book that is fun for the whole family, such as the classic Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater or The Tale of Despareaux by Kate DiCamillo. The readers in your family can take turns reading a few paragraphs aloud. Younger children can listen to the story. Take time to ask questions and discuss the book. Meet throughout the month until your family finishes the whole book.
- Use books to support your child’s social-emotional learning. A story, like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, can be a springboard for discussions around managing anger and apologizing. For older children, a novel, such Rules by Cynthia Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk about disabilities and social norms.
- Listen to an audiobook during car or bus trips. Classic stories, like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White or Matilda by Roald Dahl, can make the drive to school, practice or the store something that your family enjoys.
- Try a new recipe! Read the recipe together in advance and make a grocery list. Then work together to prepare the dish. Recipes provide not only an authentic reason to read, but practice in life skills as well as math concepts. Here are tips to get kids cooking at home.
- Kids are always asking questions! Explore Wonderopolis.org to find answers to curious questions, such as “How Do You Bring Home the Bacon?” or “Why Do You Change the Oil in Cars?” There are thousands of Wonders on many different topics for kids of all ages. Each Wonder is followed by Try It Out suggestions so your family can keep learning together.
- Visit your local library together! Yes, libraries do story times and have books for check out, but 21st century libraries offer so much more. You might find classes in yoga or teen programs focused on coding. You can access digital resources, such as magazines, cookbooks or audio books, from your own device at no charge.
Use these ideas to build routines and create traditions around reading. Help your children and teens see that reading is not just a subject that they study in school, but an essential part of life. An activity that creates bonds, helps us to understand the world and enriches our lives.
Becky Goetzinger, PhD is the reading specialist at the National Center for Families Learning.