What’s the best way parents can support their child’s reading growth at home? Read every night.
That sounds simple enough but anyone who has had the “have you done your homework” conversation knows this can be easier said than done. Here are a few tips for success that can make reading every night a reality in your home.
Choose a “just right” book
To get the most out of independent reading time, children should be reading books at their reading level. I can sit down and flip through a copy of The Odyssey in Homer’s original Greek, but it doesn’t matter how expertly I flip the pages — I won’t understand a word I read. On the other hand, I can read People magazine, but I won’t be challenging my brain. To help your child pick a book that is not too hard, and not too easy, use the “Five Finger Rule.”
Here’s how the “Five Finger Rule” works:
1. Open a book to any page and read the page out loud.
2. Hold up one finger for every word you cannot pronounce or don’t understand.
3. If you hold up four or more fingers, the book is too hard for you at this time.
4. If you hold up 0-1 fingers, the book is too easy for you.
5. If you hold up 2-3 fingers, this book is just right for you.
Choose an interesting book
We want our kids to read classics and to read a wide variety of genres, but we also want them to read books they like. When starting out building your reading stamina, picking a book you are interested in is especially important. Do you like video games and action movies? Try the Dog Tags book series. Do you think horses are cool? Check out a book from the non-fiction section about different breeds of horses. If you read a few chapters and you really hate it, it’s ok to pick a new book (Just monitor that your child doesn’t quit every book before finishing).
Habits for success
Reading a book is similar to losing weight – you’ll get the best results when you set achievable goals and establish a system that works for your life. Try these tips for making reading a part of your evening routine:
– Read at the same time and place every night. I like to read in bed for 30 minutes before turning out the light. You could also read while you eat your snack after school.
– Read in the quietest place possible. Turn the TV off. If you can find a place to read without your two-year-old brother climbing on you, that’s a plus.
– Do you have busy evenings? Try taking your book to your sibling’s soccer practice or other times you can squeeze in reading while waiting around.
Ask your kids about what they read. Some go-to questions for when your child is reading fiction include:
– Who is the main character?
– What is the main character’s problem? How do you know?
– How is he/she trying to solve their problem? How do you know?
Go-to questions for non-fiction include:
– What did you learn about the topic?
– What do you think are the main points the author wanted you to know?
– What was the big idea in what you read today?