We all know the advantages of reading – not only is it an essential component of literacy, but it also helps in building up vocabulary, improving writing skills, and providing new knowledge. But when it comes to developing a healthy reading habit in children, things are easier said than done. Having books around the house is just the first step – but the books don’t read themselves.
If your child is reading – but not enough, or hasn’t made a habit of reading widely, it would benefit them to embark on more active reading. Now’s a great time to encourage more reading at home, since everyone is encouraged to stay indoors as part of safe distancing efforts. Making it a family effort also makes everyone more invested and motivated.
For some simple, actionable goals you can set as a family to promote more reading at home, read on below:
1. Read one book together each day
If reading isn’t already something you and your child do every day, the minimum goal you should set is to read at least one book together each day. By reading together, there’s less inertia for your child than if they had to pick up a book themselves. This eases them into reading more, and also makes for ideal bonding time.
For those who already have a reading routine in place, why not try upping the level? If your child is currently reading one book a day, consider raising the goal to two books per day. Alternatively, you can provide books with higher levels of difficulty or longer lengths so that your child will always have something to challenge themselves with.
2. Share key takeaways from reading
Talking about what you have read helps to consolidate learning, and offers an opportunity to discuss varying viewpoints. Milk out the learning you can get from reading by making it a point to share with family members about your most recent reads. Some things to talk about include your biggest takeaways, most impactful scene, or a character that you resonated with.
You can ask your child about books they’ve read at a set time every day so that it becomes a habit, for example, during dinner table conversations, or on the commute home from school. Discussing books once a day also enforces accountability by helping each other keep count of your reading progress.
3. Explore different texts once a week
One way to reap more benefits from reading is to read widely. Challenge children to pick up one text that is not a storybook at least once a week. These can be poems, riddles, encyclopaedias, magazines, and so much more! Different text types and subject matters expose your young reader to vast writing styles, vocabulary, tone, and formats. Children can also grow more sensitive to context and audience by reading widely.
By making different reading materials available to your child, it will be easier to encourage them to read widely. For example, you can ask them to borrow at least one poem book and one non-fiction book from every of your regular library visits, or gift them a subscription of a young reader’s magazine.
4. Ask questions before closing the book
What do you usually do after finishing a book? Reaching the end of the book shouldn’t be the end of the story. Instead, take some time to reflect, ask questions, and let the contents of the book really sink in. By actively engaging with the text, the reader goes through an exercise in critical thinking as well.
Reading together with your child offers you the platform to ask them questions after reading. Go beyond factual recall questions and ignite introspection and retrospection. Some excellent questions you can ask are:
- What would you do if you were in this character’s shoes?
- What do you think will happen if this character made a different choice?
- How do you think the character felt during this scene?
Additionally, don’t be afraid to turn the tables and let your child ask you questions as well! After all, you are trying to promote conversation and an exchange of ideas. Letting your child learn to ask questions is just as important as having them answer.
Hopefully, these goals give you a helpful starting point for kickstarting a healthy reading plan for your child and your family. Through this, you can look forward to reeling in the benefits of reading while enjoying quality time together with your child.
If your child is in school, you can also make use of the school’s resources in your reading plans. The International School in Singapore provides students with an abundance of reading resources in their extensive school library. Language programmes like the Chinese-English Bilingual Programme and rigorous language classes further serve to support and boost your child’s literacy and confidence in their language skills. It is no wonder we are widely considered one of the best IB schools in Singapore for young learners!
With the partnership of family and school, your child will grow to appreciate reading and all the benefits it has to offer. Begin on your family reading goals today!