Reading With Your Child
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
(Richard C. Anderson, Becoming a Nation of Readers)
Ten Ideas Parents Can Use to Improve the Quality of Shared Literacy Experiences1. Get your child to talk. Your child should be engaged with the story, and in
talking about the story. You can promote engagement by asking questions,
and prompting your child to predict what will happen next.
2. Help your child understand the story. While reading the story, check regularly
to determine whether your child is understanding the story. If he/she does not,
fill in the missing pieces, and explain what is happening in your own words.
3. Praise your child. Let your child know that you are proud of him/her when he/she
asks a good question, makes a good connection, confirms a prediction, is interested
in a new word, shares something about a character, says something interesting,
uses word identification strategies, and/or reads well.
4. Relate the book to your life. Use the book as a jumping point to tell your child
something interesting about your life, or an event the book reminds you of. Then
ask your child to relate the book to his/her life, and make a personal connection.
5. Ask your child good questions during storybook reading. Why and How questions are very useful in stimulating thought-provoking discussions that support higher
6. Wait for answers. After you ask a question, give your child time to answer.
Wait time gives your child the chance to think more deeply about his/her response,
use and expand his/her vocabulary, and increase engagement with the text. If
your child in unable to respond after a reasonable wait time, simply take the lead.
Remember that asking an open-ended question (where a child has to construct
an answer) will require more wait time than a closed question (a question that
requires a yes or no answer.
7. With younger children, focus on the print. You can do this by pointing to the
words as you read. This will help your child understand that written words are
speech written down. You can also emphasize that we read from left to right,
top to bottom, and we turn pages when we are finished reading all the words on
8. With older children, take turns reading. You can each read a paragraph, page, or
several pages. You can read some portion of the text silently, then stop at a
specific point, and discuss what you read. Then you can figure out how to keep
reading. By alternating reading formats, you can keep your child engaged in the
9. Choose books carefully. You want to choose a book that will engage your child,
stimulate his/her interest or imagination, promote vocabulary development and
exposure to figurative language, support basic comprehension, nurture critical
thinking skills, and feed your child's motivation to want to read. Do not think
that every book you read has to do all of these things, everytime you read.
Furthermore, do not think that everytime you read, you have to do all of these
things. Always keep in mind that shared literacy experiences are meant to be
pleasurable. In addition, do not choose a book that is too easy, or too difficult.
Teachers and librarians can assist you with this process.
10. Have fun! As stated above, keep the book sharing experience enjoyable.
Reading with your child provides a valuable opportunity to promote your
child's lifelong love of literature.
Diane H. Tracey (2000) Enhancing Literacy Growth Through Home-School Connections. In Beginning Reading and Writing(Strickland and Morrow.)
Lane, H. B. and Wright T. L. (2007) Maximizing the effectiveness of reading aloud.
The Reading Teacher Vol. 60 (7) 668-675.