GROWING ENTHUSIASTIC READERS BOTH IN AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM: A READ ACROSS AMERICA SERIES
This Friday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day. Celebrated on the birthday of beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss, this annual reading and motivation awareness program calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading. If you are already an avid reader, you have experienced how beneficial reading can be, from stress reduction to increased memory retention. It’s only natural for us to want our children to possess these very same qualities.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Scholastic, nearly 9 out of 10 parents (86%) believe that strong reading skills are among the most important skills their children should have. However, only half of their children (54%) agree with their parents. Who knew that our kids disagreed with us?
The frequency with which children are reading at home has dropped as well, with only 21% reading at home consistently. This is a sharp decline from only five years ago when 30% of children consistently read at home.
Although technology provides useful tools for educational development, this wane in reading fervor can be directly attributed to the various outlets to which children now devote their time and attention. Texting, video games, and social media now dominate the schedules of our children. By the age of twelve, nearly 60% of kids are on their cell phones rather than in a book. This compares to the only 10% of children between the ages of nine and eleven who are consistently use their cell phones.
But fear not! For while our children might not agree with our opinions and are distracted by devices (what else is new?), they wholeheartedly agree that they enjoy reading just as much (or more) than they did when they were younger!
Now, more than ever, we have to provide our children with the right outlet and the proper excuse to put down their phones and set aside time to pick up a book. In this two-part series, we will discover creative tactics to help children become better readers at home as well as in the classroom.
Today, we will be investigating five excellent strategies to get your kids reading at home:
- Don’t Fight the Phone
Instead of trying to fight the habitual phone overuse, learn to work with it. By installing an audiobook onto their phone, you can encourage them to listen to books while they are on the bus to school, traveling to practice, or hanging out around the house. You can find an excellent library of audiobooks by downloading Audible. It’s free with an Amazon Prime account, or for the first thirty days. You also get your first two books free!
- Read It and Watch
Pick a classic book that’s been turned into a movie, and read that book together. When you’re finished, host a family movie night complete with their favorite movie snack. By turning the book into an event, you will create positive momentum towards consistent reading habits. You can find a great list of books-to-movies at TimeOut- New York Kids.
- Model and Ask
The best tactic to create positive reading habits in your children is for that behavior to be modeled in yourself. Combine this concept with a sense of unity between you and your child, and you have a powerful recipe for reading success! The next time you want your child to read, pick a book that you can agree to read together. Read a few chapters at a time, and then come together to talk about what you’ve read. This will not only help to develop reading comprehension, but enhance your relationship. Parent Toolkits offers great questions and advice to help your child find meaning behind any story.
- Create a Nook
Kids love creating their own space. Whether it’s turning a large box into a spaceship, or a blanket and chairs into a fort, they are constantly re-imagining their environment. Work with your child to create a space all their own. Make it cozy, comfy, and full of creative books! Looking for a little inspiration, check out these excellent Pinterest nook ideas (Isn’t Pinterest awesome?!).
- Turn Library Visits into Adventures
Librarians are paid to make reading fun and accessible. Why not use them? Next time you go to the library, check in at the front desk to see what events are coming up. If they have a calendar, stick that to your fridge and plan a family library excursion! Help your child associate the library with fun. Make sure to also get your children their very own library card. Having something that is all their own creates a sense of ownership and excitement. Find a local library near you today.
***BONUS for Children 3-6 years old: Reread Rhymes
Books advance early language development. Children will first notice pictures, then they will recognize the story behind the pictures as you re-read it. These are both key pre-reading skills. By choosing books that rhyme, your child will learn to recognize and memorize repetition and sound. Eventually, they will be “reading” along with you as they recite the rhymed story. This is key in developing a love and a habit for reading.
Make sure to check back in with us on March 15th, when we will be revealing part two of our “Read Across America” series! We will be moving from the home to the classroom, and offering creative alternatives to the antiquated book report.
What techniques have you found most effective in getting your kids to read at home? Share your story with us @edvergent and #iTeachDigital! If you have not already done so, make sure to subscribe to our blog for more great resources!