Reading Tips for Parents
First rule: don’t stress! Reading aloud should be a fun experience, for both the reader and the listener! It’s a very precious time where we can put our devices away, cuddle up with our children and bond over books. Our expert literacy specialists are on hand to share reading tips and answer common questions and concerns we hear from parents.
Why is Reading Aloud So Important?
Evidence shows that children who are read to, especially before school entry, not only experience greater brain activity and cognitive development, but also gain valuable language and literacy skills. One of the biggest benefits we often forget however, is parent-child bonding which helps alleviate stress while improving socio-emotional development through the simple act of reading together.
Reading Tips from Bring Me A Book Hong Kong
Why is reading aloud so important for children?
Here’s what reading expert and Bring Me A Book™ Trainer Julie Fowlkes has to say.
At what age should we begin to read to children?
Parents should read to children from birth! Reading to newborns is a must according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The years from birth through age four are critical for brain development – the brain is 90% developed by the time a child turns four. Reading aloud to babies stimulates developing senses, and builds listening and memory skills that can help babies grow up to be readers. However, it is never too late to begin reading to children.
How can we make reading powerful, effective, and fun?
- Let your child choose the book
- Snuggle in!
- Read slowly
- Read the author and title of the book
- Let your child turn the pages
- Make predictions
- Encourage/praise your child
- Read while children are playing
- Be silly, dramatic, and have fun!
What are the signs of a struggling reader?
- Every child learns and develops at different rates. More often than not, we push our children too early to read too soon.
- However, it’s also very important, as parents, to be aware of signs of a struggling reader so we can provide the right support as needed, by a professional.
- To give parents some reference points to look out for, HK-based reading and dyslexia therapist, Rebecca Bush, has prepared a parent fact sheet to identify struggling readers for different age groups, from 2-18 years old. Click here to download the fact sheet.
How does reading reduce stress?
- Reading calming and fun books together provides a huge respite for so many families by helping to reduce anxiety and forge a closer bond, particularly during times of increased stress and uncertainty.
- A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce heart rate and stress levels by more than 60%.
We’re too busy to read to our kids. How can we fit it into our schedule?
- Read books during bath time.
- Read a shorter book, or read a longer book over the course of a few days, a little at a time.
- Read at the same time every day, either right before your child goes to bed or another time that works with your schedule. Make it part of your routine.
- Carry a book in your bag, just as you might carry a snack or a toy.
- Keep books in the car for your child to read while you drive.
- Have an older child read to you and your younger child.
Our house is always noisy and busy. How can we find quiet space to read?
- Involve the entire family.
- Turn off the TV, radio, and computer.
- Take a book to the park, or sit outside.
- Read to the child in his/her bed just before going to sleep as part of your bedtime routine
We don’t have children’s books. Where can we get them?
- Borrow books from the public library or school library.
- Read books from a Bring Me A Book™ Book Bag Library.
- Ask for books as birthday and holiday presents instead of toys.
- Borrow or exchange books with friends and relatives.
How do I choose good books for my child?
- Take a look at our Find Me A Book search engine for best books.
- Become our Family and School Member to borrow books from our Member’s Library.
- Look for books with beautiful illustrations. The illustrations should enhance the story – telling more than the words.
- Read the first few pages to get a sense of the language. It should flow naturally.
- Think about what messages you want your children to hear. Select books that support self-esteem; promote connectedness to others, reflect on history and experiences, and promote understanding and respect for others.
My children are restless. How can I make reading more fun for them?
- Read to them while they are playing.
- Read in an animated way, creating unique voices for different characters.
- Make games, finger plays, or action songs to go along with books.
- Read when they are sleepy, especially before nap and bed time.
- Don’t worry so much about finishing the book, but more about connecting with your child as you read it.
- Read a book that you and your child can act out.
- Read a shorter book.
Is it okay to read the same book over and over?
Yes, young children love repetition. Repeat readings help children master story lines, language and ideas in a story and to understand rhythm and poetry in familiar narratives. The best books are ones that make children say, “Read it again.” The ideal combination of books is: one favorite, one familiar, one new.
How do I read to my children if I don’t speak English?
- Tell a story from the pictures in a book.
- Read a book in your native language.
- Read a bilingual book.
- Have siblings or a relative read.
- Play an audio recording of an English language book so that you can learn together. Read to your child in English as a way to practice your language skills too. Click here for read-aloud clips.
Bring Me a Book Hong Kong encourages people to find a bit of time each day to read to their children, guiding them to become more thoughtful and empathetic. The provision of quality books is also the provision of quality time.
Dr. Mark Williams
Professor of Clinical Psychology, Oxford University, United Kingdom