Reading for pleasure is important. The simple act of sitting together and looking at the words and images on the page as you read with your child builds positive connections with the text. It is a chance to celebrate the pleasures associated with reading. Nurturing the seeds of early literacy skills can happen when modeling the act of reading with your children.
Keep it simple and fun. Start with 10 minutes each night. Don’t be surprised if you lose track of time and start to enjoy yourself. It may be three quick picture books or a chapter from a much-loved series.
It should not feel like homework. Separate family reading time from homework assignments. This stand-alone activity is a sacred opportunity to reconnect with your child. It should be a stress-free time to share an adventure, visit with beloved characters, explore the imagination, and make discoveries found only in books.
Connect with some actual face time, not digital time. This brief moment is another excellent chance to let your children know that you see them. Being consistent and deliberate with setting aside a few minutes at the end of a long day helps them understand that they can count on this time to have your undivided attention. It is crucial that you not bring your digital devices into the setting. No cell phones, tablets, laptops or televisions in the background competing for your attention.
Let go of perfection. You do not have to be perfect. Nor does your child. Try to stay away from merely reciting all the words on the page. Allowing for the use funny character voices and working together to decode words are essential parts of modeling what reading looks and sounds. You do not have to be a perfect storyteller or put on an impressive performance to make this time meaningful.
Sacred time. Be careful not to leverage family reading time as a consequence of behaviors. Taking away this dedicated time together because of undesirable behaviors defeats the benefits of making positive connections with reading. When established as a priority, family reading can demonstrate to your children that you value this time with them.
Reading is a social activity. Book clubs are popular choices because readers want to share and discuss their excitement or get answers to lingering questions. Young readers are eager for the same types of interactions around a text. Keep that going by encouraging your child to pose questions about the pictures or events from the text. Asking open-ended questions like, “What do you think is going to happen next?” Asking questions before, during, and after reading a book supports comprehension and helps the young reader organize new information.
Fort Bend Public Libraries are an excellent resource for checking out books to share with your children. Books can be checked out for three weeks at a time. Visit your local branch or the Fort Bend Public Libraries site for more details.