Reading tips for parents

Making the Most of Reading Minutes
A little planning can help busy mothers and fathers make the most of even a few minutes of bedtime reading:

Brain Waves: 10 Ways Reading Can Stimulate Learning
Reading is a wonderful bonding and learning experience for children. How you approach and carry out your bedtime reading routine can enhance cognitive development.
  1. Create a Bedtime Reading Zone
    • Read in your child's bedroom, surrounded by her favorite things: a blanket, stuffed toy, night-light.
    • Why? Being in a familiar place stimulates all the senses at once, making the experience pleasurable and memorable and creating positive associations with reading.

  2. Get Close
    • Have your child sit next to you or on your lap to provide him with a feeling of security.
    • Why? When a child feels insecure, the body releases a hormone that can interfere with learning. Creating a warm, close bond makes the child comfortable and can help him learn.

  3. Find Your Child's Pace
    • Start with short reading sessions and slowly build up to longer sessions.
    • Why? There is a difference in what a child can do with guidance (potential development) and what a child can do without assistance (actual development). Building up reading time keeps your child challenged and helps your child transition from reading with help to reading independently.

  4. Act Out
    • Act out the characters and use variation in your voice while reading the story.
    • Why? This helps your child develop critical listening skills and makes reading time more fun.

  5. Read with Your Eyes and Fingers
    • Run your finger under the words as you read.
    • Why? Running fingers under the text trains a child's eyes to follow words and symbols from left to right. Also, one of the first steps when learning to read is hearing sounds in the words. This teaches that speech is made up of different individual words and sounds.

  6. Be Repetitive
    • Read favorite books more than once.
    • Why? When a child reads a book over and over, he can learn to predict the outcomes and recognize patterns. This helps your child learn and store new information and builds upon his memory.

  7. Make a Point
    • Point out pictures, shapes, colors, and page numbers.
    • Why? This develops an understanding of printed material.

  8. Word Power
    • Enunciate your words, but speak as normally as possible while reading aloud. Pay close attention to grammar as your child is paying close attention to you.
    • Why? When listening to a parent read, a child listens to spoken language. This helps his ability to express thoughts and communicate using correct grammar.

  9. Share and Compare
    • Make comparisons as you read. For example, "Which tree is taller?" Or, "You have blonde hair. What color hair does Goldilocks have?"
    • Why? Comparing and contrasting helps children create connections and find meanings in these connections.

  10. Play a Game
    • After finishing a story, ask the child what happened in the beginning, middle, and end.
    • Why? This stimulates higher-order thinking because your child has to analyze the story and tell you in her own words what happened. This will also enhance your child's listening and reading comprehension skills.

Creating Your Child's Own Reading Library
How to Choose Books: Where to Get Books:

An Age-Appropriate Guide to Books
Your bedtime reading routine will evolve as your child develops physically and intellectually.

Birth to Toddlers
3 to 5 Years Old
6 to 8 Years Old (Beginning Readers)

Adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy

Copyright © 2008, CASRC, all rights reserved.