Joan Brennan is the Founder/CEO of Brennan Innovators, LLC (since 2003) and is the Inventor of Reading Focus Card (Patent 7,565,759), a solution for children and adults challenged with AD/HD, dyslexia, autism, low vision, stroke recovery, TBIs and other conditions affecting reading ability.
It‘s no secret that the ability to read well is one of the cornerstones of opportunity and success throughout a person’s life. What can you as parents do to foster a home environment that sets the stage for your children to value reading and to read well—for life?
As a middle school teacher and parent of 4 sons, I can say that it does not necessarily require a huge financial investment or the acceptance into an elite school, but it may take a few minutes each day and a bit of creative thinking on the part of parents to make this possible. There are specific things parents can do early, later, and often to establish and maintain a home environment that promotes and values reading, increasing a child’s opportunities for success, both in reading and in life.
I would like to share some of these ideas and tips with you. Here are just a few things you as parents (and grandparents!) can do to help your children become life-long readers:
1. Read aloud daily to your child—early and often. You’ll find that 15 minutes can be gone in a flash when you and your child are absorbed reading a great story together.
2. Once you’ve “stoked the fires” or presented the “appetizers” for reading through your early read-alouds, you’ll want to introduce your little one to the wonderful world of your local library. Visit often and allow your child to choose books that interest him, with your guidance, of course. Place those chosen books and others in every room of your home so that they will always be accessible. Baskets and boxes full of books and other reading material nestled next to chairs and sofas are inviting and can offer much variety to young and experienced readers alike.
As your child grows, you might change it up a bit and visit other libraries beyond your neighborhood, demonstrating that people everywhere value books and reading. ‘Tweens and teens often prefer variety and will welcome these visits to different communities. You might even try a “new” library every couple of weeks, especially during the summer when your child and you may have a little more time. Follow one or more of these visits with a picnic lunch nearby where you can discuss the books you and your child chose or read while at the library. This makes for inexpensive fun together, too.
3. During the reading and after finishing a story or book (together or individually), talk about what was read. Ask open-ended questions about the plot or characters in the selection:
- What do you think will happen next?
- How would you end this story?
- What else could that character have done with his “problem”?
When the child is older and ready to do so, ask her to create a different conclusion for the story or book—and then discuss why she created that particular ending. You might be surprised at the extent of your young daughter’s creative imagination.
4. Involve your youngster in creating graphic expressions of the story just read. Drawing and/or coloring a set of scenes from that story can include all of the main characters or important parts of the plot. A colorfully created “comic” strip of scenes from the selection can do much to help with sequencing skills. This can also reveal much about your child’s understanding and comprehension of the book or story. This is a good idea for visual learners who love to draw.
5. If your child is not a “fan” of artistic expression, you might suggest recording an interview of your child as the main character, the author of the book, or as a news reporter telling his audience about the story just completed. This is a great approach for auditory learners.
These recommendations are really just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to ideas for providing a family-environment that promotes and values life-long reading. If you adopt just a few of these ideas, you will not only be setting the stage for your child’s reading success throughout life, but you will experience more quality time together, create wonderful memories, and build an even stronger parent-child relationship—for life!
So, Happy Reading—together!