Three tips to read with your children at home

A few weeks ago our executive director Jocelynn White was the guest speaker for the United Way of Rhode Island’s Community First Conversations with UWRI’s president and CEO Cortney Nicolato. (The conversation took place live on their Facebook page where viewers can watch the entire recorded conversation.) Books Are Wings partners with UWRI for our annual book drive.

In the conversation Jocelynn acknowledged the challenges parents faced during the state’s stay-at-home order of becoming their child’s teacher. She stressed the importance of making reading fun at home, and shared several tried and tested ideas for how parents can help their kids become lifelong learners.

1. Make the time to spend 15-20 minutes each day reading with your child.

With the official start of school delayed two weeks until September 14, many parents are still not entirely clear what shape the upcoming school year of learning will look like. While some districts may adopt a hybrid model of remote and in-classroom learning, many parents may be undecided on whether to return their children to school or create an environment for homeschooling. With inevitably more learning taking place at home, building a regular routine around reading will help build good reading habits for the future.

2. Be encouraging, help children sound-out words and take turns reading.

For younger readers, especially elementary through middle school learners, parents will need to make reading fun for them at home. By being encouraging and taking part in reading time with children, parents can help build a child’s confidence in reading, create positive learning experiences and make the time spent on reading more enjoyable for their kids.

Jocelynn shared some of the staff’s favorite books for elementary learners, such as Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle (2008), a picture board book with lots of animal and truck noises for practicing aloud. Another favorite for little ones is Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (1988) that follows a mom and daughter as they plant a garden that blossoms into a rainbow of colorful flowers.

Fort Building Time by Megan Wagner Lloyd (2017), last week’s read-aloud choice, has lots of ideas for fort-building activities and is accompanied on our website by a Reading Resource sheet. Another impactful book that has been read to thousands of children by Books are Wings staff is I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont (2010). A book about building self-esteem, I Like Myself “encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves–inside and out.”

3. Encourage choosing books that match children’s interests.

Middle school readers are at an age when their focus is on what really interests and excites them. Jocelynn explained the importance of letting children choose books that match their interests, whether fiction or non-fiction, because not all children will love the same books. Helping your child find the right books for his or her interests will empower them in their reading and foster a love of reading and learning. For this group she recommended a number of popular graphic and adventure novels such as Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (2015)—a Read Across RI book, The Last Olympian (last in the Percy Jackson series) by Rick Riordan (2009), and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (2017).

For recommendations on books that match your children’s reading level or for more ideas and reading activities to share with kids at home, visit our Reading Resources page of our website.

Books Are Wings is still accepting book donations! Please contact Kim Nelson, Director of Community Engagement at kim@booksarewings.org for more info on donating books. Visit our donation page here to make a monetary donation and check out our volunteer opportunities here!

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