How to help your kids love reading as much as you do

How to help your kids love reading as much as you do

How to help your kids love reading as much as you do

Why don’t bananas have seeds? Why do grownups have to work so much? Why do my toes and fingers get wrinkled in the bathtub?

If it seems like your child asks you “Why?” all the time, there’s a good reason. At this age, learning comes naturally. Kids are excited and curious to know how the world works and why things are the way they are.

So as a parent, you don’t really need to do anything to make your kindergartner want to learn. (You just have to try to answer all of those questions!) But giving the right words of encouragement can make a big difference to your growing learner. Here are some ways to give your child the needed words of support at just the right moment.

Point to the positive

You’re watching your daughter jump rope, and she gets through three turns before stepping on the rope. To encourage her to keep trying:

Instead ofsaying: “You keep missing because you aren’t jumping high enough.”
Try this: “Wow! You got three jumps! Want to see if you can do four now?”

Let learning be the reward

To get your kindergartner to read more books, you don’t need to offer a reward. Reading — whether it’s you reading to your child or your child reading on her own — is exciting for kids who are just learning. When you sit down to read with your son:

Instead of saying: “If you let me read this book to you, I’ll give you a cookie.”
Try this: “Let’s read this book together. I think you’ll like it since it’s about astronauts. If you like this one, maybe we can find another book about outer space.”

Share your world

Your child wants to know what you think about all the things she’s seeing, hearing, and learning. If she asks, “What is that TV show you’re watching?”:

Instead ofsaying: “Oh, you wouldn’t understand it.”
Try this: “It’s the story of some people who came to this country a long time ago.” (Or another simple way to explain the plot.) If your child asks more questions, give her even more details.

Put it in perspective

If your son is having a hard time reading a book and wants to quit:

Instead ofsaying: “I know reading can be hard, but you just have to do. Your teacher said so.”
Try this: “Sometimes reading a book can be hard because we don’t know all the words. Let’s read it together. Show me the words you don’t understand, and I’ll tell you what they mean.”

Let them do the asking

If your child is asking you questions you don’t know the answer to:

Instead of saying: “I don’t know. You’re driving me crazy with all your questions!”
Try this: “I’m not really sure. Why do you think our toes and fingers get wrinkled in the bathtub?” (Hint: Google is a parent’s best friend for finding an answer to almost any question.)

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Easy ways to get your kids excited about reading and encourage kids to love books!

If you’re wondering how to encourage reading habits in kids, you’re not alone. Parents all around the globe are finding that getting the kids off the screens can be a tough. One thing that I’ve discovered works well in my house is to have great reading materials and books readily available for the kids.

And it makes sense, right? I know this because I feel this way too! When I’m “bored” and looking for something to do, I’m not in the mood to actively search for something. I want something that’s easy and within reach.

The good news is that there are ways that you can actually encourage good reading habits in kids with just a few simple daily tips and ideas.

Below you’ll find some of the best tips and words of advice on how to encourage reading habits in kids. (and some of these tips can be tailored to work on getting you to read more, too!)

TOP TIPS TO GET YOUR CHILD TO READ MORE

I love the feeling of holding a book in my hands and turning each and every page. (and don’t get me started on that “new book” smell…and the cracking of the book spine as the first person to read the book).

I didn’t always feel this way though. There was a time when I was indifferent about reading books. It took the right experiences to open my eyes to the wonder or reading and I haven’t turned back since. Setting the stage for your kids to nurture their love of books is key to unlocking this passion in them too!

Some of these tips are ones that work well for me and my kids and have for years, and others are new ideas that we just started using and are finding great success with.

Make certain to check out these tips for ways to help your child read more on a daily basis.

1. Get a Literati subscription box for your kids

This is by far the easiest and most effective way to get your kids excited about books! Getting mail is always fun and when that mail is a great book to enjoy, it’s like the holidays all over again – but every month!

I’ve partnered with the Literati subscription box for kids to share why it’s our new favorite subscription box! Literati is a book subscription that delivers the top books for kids every month, right to your front door.

And these aren’t just any books. They’re book recommendations and book favorites from teachers, librarians, and more!

The kids LOVED getting their very own box in the mail that was geared towards them and their reading level, and I loved that they were excited about something that was a special (and educational) item.

Once you sign up, that’s all you have to worry about. Literati does the rest and delivers the books each and every month, just like clockwork!

The boxes even come packed with a cute poster, stickers that have their names on them that they can put on their new books, a card, and of course an amazing selection of books!

2. Create a comfy reading nook

Kids love comfort! (don’t we all?!) Make a space in the house that is just for reading. Add some fun pillows, a fun rug, and a little bookcase and make it a warm and inviting space. The kids will love cuddling up with their favorite books in the reading nook area and have a big of time to themselves.

Another great option – especially for little kids – get a tent or teepee! Kids love to snuggle up in a tent and read! You can even let them build a fort in the den and read in it!

3. Take a field trip to the library

There’s something so special about the library. Picking a day and making an outing of it can be a simple way to get them out the door and into the library which is a whole new and exciting words of HUNDREDS of books.

Pack up a snack and make a day of it, or plan a picnic while you’re out and about as well.

4. Create a “reading hour” at home

If you sit and read, the kids are going to sit and read. It’s really sometimes as simple as that. Create a time of day that the kids can sit down and read with you. It can be as short as 30 minutes or even broken up into a couple different times of the day.

5. Make a family book club

Talk to the kids about what book they want to read and then make it the book club book for the month. Having everyone in the family read the same book and talk about it can be a really fun idea.

You can even make it a fun night and order pizza, too! Don’t forget homemade cookies for dessert!

6. Have a nightly bedtime story

Did you know that reading is a great way to calm your mind before bed? Set aside about 15 minutes or so before bedtime and let the kids have that time to calm down and read. You can also make this a fun bedtime story time to do with the kids, too.

7. Visit Little Book Libraries in your town

If you don’t know what these are – just look it up! As soon as you see one, you’ll start seeing them all over your town. They’re little cute “barns” or “houses” in the yards of homes and businesses that are stuffed full of free books. You can take one and leave one and get a new book to enjoy fast.

8. Hold a read-a-thon with prizes

Prizes and rewards are always great incentives for everyone. And who knows – it just might encourage the kids to pick up a book and start reading without even missing a beat.

9. Take turn reading the pages

Kids just want us to be there with them, enjoying the moment. For this to happen, sit down and switch off reading out loud after every single page. It’s a simple way to get them, and you, to enjoy the moment of bonding.

10. Have a screen free weekend

Lastly, but not least, sometimes you just have to say “no” to the screens. Just turn them off for the day or the weekend and give the kids the options to read.

As you can see, these are some great tips to get your child to read more and dive into the pages of a good book! And if one doesn’t work for you, move down the list and try another one – it’s never wasted time when you’re expanding your child’s mind!

What is a Literati subscription box?

I mentioned this above as the #2 suggestion, and I have to circle back to it. This reading subscription box for kids is a great way to get the kids excited about reading.

Every month, top books geared towards their reading level and age are dropped at the door. I like to pair them up with a tasty treat and let them dive right now.

This means that they get recommended books to try that are going to expand their minds and vocabulary easily. This not only encourages them to read but it takes the pressure off of trying to find good books, too!

If you’re ready to help your child get excited about reading, don’t miss out on these actionable reading habits for kids. Before you know it, they’ll be begging for the next book to be arriving in the mail! Click here to get your first Literati box and see the magic for yourself!

Now it’s your turn! Which of these has worked best for you? Do you have any other great tips for getting kids excited about reading and books? Comment below!

How to help your kids love reading as much as you do

“Mom! Dad! Can we go to the library to check out a big stack of books? After I do all of my chores, I would really like to spend the rest of the afternoon reading quietly!”

. said no child, ever.

Just kidding. Some kids really do love to read! Actually, it’s natural for children to love to read. And that’s a wonderful thing. Research shows that kids who love to read often have bigger vocabularies, better problem solving abilities, and a higher degree of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to “identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways.”

If you’d like to see your child reading more — especially over the summer holidays, while school’s out of session — there are steps you can take to help that come about. (And no, bribing your child with a scoop of ice cream for finishing Anne of Green Gables is not one of them!)

If your child seems highly-resistant to reading — perhaps because of boring, unpleasant experiences in the past — try to figure out which kinds of books might spark excitement, and start there.

After all, if your child has at least one positive, engrossing, exciting experience with a book, he or she will be far more likely to want to read more!

Ready to ignite a lifelong love affair with books?

Here are 5 questions that can help you to light the first spark:

1. Which movies, TV shows and video games does your child love?

Is your child glued to the Cinderella movie?

Constantly re-playing the soundtrack from Inside Out?

Begging to watch the next episode of the TV show Arthur?

If there’s a plot line that your child already loves, tell them, “How about reading the book version of that [show / film]? I bet it’s got even more details that aren’t in the movie about all the characters you love. Let’s head to the library and see if they have it. “

Someday (hopefully!) your child’s appetite for books will expand beyond the realm of film-and-TV-related titles, but this can be a good place to begin — especially if your child is super-resistant to reading.

2. What is your child passionate about?

Does your child enjoy watching endless YouTube clips of jaw-dropping surf competitions? You could recommend a memoir written by a young surfing champion who has succeeded despite incredible adversity.

Is your child a budding entrepreneur who’d love to make some extra cash over the summer holidays? A book on teen-entrepreneurship could be just the ticket.

Encourage your child to read books on topics that he or she already loves, especially over summer break when there’s less homework and “required reading” to do. This can spark a love of books that may eventually spread, like wildfire, into other topics too.

3. Who are your child’s role models and heroes?

If your child idolizes a particular athlete, actor, musician, celebrity, blogger, writer, or some other public figure, do some Googling and see if you can find out if that person has written a book, has been featured in a book, or has a favorite book of their own (that they’ve mentioned in an interview, for example).

If it’s an age-appropriate book (of course), you can say to your child, “Did you know that [name of hero’s] favorite book of all time is [title]? Would you like to read it, too?”

4. Does your child have a competitive streak?

If so, why not hold a family-wide reading competition?

Create a score chart, put it on the fridge, and have everyone in the household participate. Whoever reads the most number of books (or pages, if you decide that’s more fair) within a set period of time wins a fabulous prize!

The prize could be: a special trip to a theme park, a new t-shirt that your kid has been ogling, an iTunes gift certificate, whatever you deem fair.

Note: this is not “bribery” because you are not trying to persuade your child to comply with the “bare minimum” that is expected in your household. You are rewarding your child for going “above and beyond” and for doing something exceptional (say, reading seven books in one month). There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy competition to get everyone’s book-reading-engines roaring. (Grown ups included!)

5. What are YOU reading these days?

It’s tough to inspire your child to read more if you don’t read much, yourself. You are the single most influential figure in your child’s life, so be sure to model the kind of behavior that you wish to see.

Set aside the phone, laptop and tablet, pull out a great book, and dive in with passion. Talk about what you’re reading around the dinner table. Plan special trips to the library and bookstore. Read together, side by side, both of you snuggled up on the sofa with your books. You can also take turns to read out loud to each other.
If your child sees you reading, and loving it, then he or she will be far more likely to follow in your footsteps.

But you’ve got to take that first step — and turn the first page.
.

PS. Not sure if a book is going to be OK for your child? Simple solution: read it yourself, first. Bonus: if you pass it along to your child, afterwards, you’ll be able to chat with them about it, book club-style!

.

Dr. Suzanne Gelb is a clinical psychologist, life coach and family law attorney.

She believes that it is never too late to become the person you want to be. Strong. Confident. Calm. Creative. Free of all of the burdens that have held you back — no matter what has happened in the past.

Her insights on personal growth have been featured on more than 200 radio programs, 200 TV interviews and online at TIME, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Daily Love, MindBodyGreen, and many other places.

Step into her virtual office at DrSuzanneGelb.com, explore her blog or sign up to receive a free meditation and her weekly writings on health, happiness and self-respect.

Disclaimer: This article, including all of its links, is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your health practitioner before beginning any new health or well-being practice for yourself or your family.

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There are many ways to enjoy reading with your child. Here are a few ways to make reading a fun part of your everyday life.

1. Develop family reading routines and rituals

Find a regular time of day when you can dedicate story time into your day. You can read in the morning, after school, or before bedtime! Making story time a cozy routine makes reading an essential and pleasant activity.

2. Read what interests your child

The nutrition facts on the milk box, newspapers, recipes, maps, and game instructions all make great reading material if your child is interested.

3. Try books that reflect your daily experiences

Making connections to topics you read about is a fun way to keep children engaged. For example, you can read You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum with your child before or after visiting an art museum. This opens up opportunities for conversations like discussing similarities and differences between the book and the museum visit.

Or read Dr. Seuss’s In a People House and then ask your child if they see any similar items, how they work, or even create a new book based on what’s inside your own home.

4. Let your child select books

When you visit the library, let your child select books. Try both fiction and informational books, and ask the librarian for recommendations based on your child’s interests.

5. Reread your child’s favorites

It’s common for young children to request the same book again and again. Re-reading familiar stories offers children a chance to absorb information over time and lets them master the whole story.

6. Encourage storytelling

Encourage your child to tell you a story from time to time or to retell a story after you’ve read it several times. Don’t feel the need to correct how she’s telling the story. Let her enjoy the experience of storytelling.

7. Have fun while reading

Try whatever style feels comfortable for you and your child. Some ways families have fun with stories include:

  • Acting out the story while reading by using facial expressions, gestures, body movements, and voices to make the story come to life.
  • Making the story relevant to your child’s life by adapting the story to include her name, a friend’s name, or your pet’s name. For example, surprise your child by saying “Olivia, Olivia, what do you see?” when you read Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Finding props to go along with favorite stories and offering them to your child to use in her play.

8. Change your setting!

It can be fun to read books in different places in and around your home. Try reading Eric Carle’s The Very Lonely Firefly in a dark room with a flashlight. I’ve read The Lamb and the Butterfly (written by Arnold Sundgaard, illustrated by Eric Carle) to a group of four-year-olds on the grass, and when they saw a butterfly fly by, they associated it with the one in the story! You can even ask your child where she wants to read a particular story.

9. Try one of these books that trigger children’s interest in reading

Adam Lehrhaupt’s Warning: Do Not Open This Book! Is a great example of a book that draws children into the act of reading. Children wonder: “Why can’t I open this book?” and read on. Here are some others:

  • Don’t Push The Button by Bill Cotter
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • How To Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens I
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Maisy’s Fairground by Lucy Cousins
  • My Granny’s Purse And My Mummy’s Bag by P. H. Hanson
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet
  • Tap to Play by Salina Yoon
  • The Foggy Foggy forest by Nick Sharratt
  • Where’s Wally? by Martin Handford

10. Get to know your child and your own reading style

  • Knowing your child and your own reading style is important for three main reasons:
  • It offers you an opportunity to observe what interests your child. Be it science, art, interactive books or wordless books, you will figure out her current interest and support her in appropriate ways.
  • You won’t impose your preferences on your child; instead, you will share what you like with each other and get a chance to explore those beyond your favorites.
  • It allows your child to understand and respect that every individual reads differently and it is okay.

There are lots of ways to encourage and enjoy reading. Try these ideas and do more of what your child enjoys.

Author

Research Fellow in Developmental and Educational Psychology, Australian Catholic University

Disclosure statement

Dr Amelia Shay does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

Australian Catholic University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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There is magic in stories. We all remember hearing them as children, and we loved them. Imaginary adventures set in faraway places. Tales about how the dishwasher isn’t working. It doesn’t matter! Whether made up by parents or read from books, kids love to hear stories.

Our recent work showed reading to children positively impacts long term academic achievement more than many other activity (including playing music with them, or doing craft). We found the more frequently parents read to their children, the better their children’s NAPLAN scores in different areas.

In our most recent study, we asked parents to read a wordless storybook to their three to five-year-old children titled The Wolf and Seven Little Goats. We also tested children in many areas of their important cognitive skills, such as language proficiency, memory, self-control, and friendship skills.

Through examining the different ways parents tell stories, we have pinpointed which elements of shared reading are most beneficial for children’s cognitive development.

1. Tune in to your child

Perhaps the most important aspect of reading to children is to tune in to your child. Listen to your child’s cues. Do they like the story? Do they know the vocabulary? Are they paying attention to the pictures more, or the text?

Try to coach your child, not to instruct them. Instead of saying: “look they are going to cook some food, maybe they are hungry”, you can ask “what are they doing?” or “why do you think they’re doing that?”.

Be sensitive about whether they are listening and engaged or uninterested and disengaged. If they are disengaged, are there questions you can ask to make them more interested? Do you think they’ll like a different type of story better? The best books for your child are the ones they enjoy most.

2. Ask questions

Parents who ask lots of questions engage in a more fun and informative way with their children. Ask them if they know the vocabulary, if they can guess what the characters are going to do next, and why they’ve done what they’ve done.

These questions are not only helpful because they help children gain new knowledge and ways of thinking, it also helps strengthen the emotional bond between parent and child. Children like to feel they’re a part of the task, not that they’re being told how to do things.

3. Go beyond describing images or reading text

In our study, we gave parents a wordless picture book. An important difference we observed between parents was some only describe what they see. Some go beyond the picture.

For example, when the mother goat in the picture book comes home and sees the door to the house open, one parent said:

When their mother came home and was looking forward to seeing her children and hugging them and telling them a story, she suddenly saw that the door is open. She was shocked!

Another parent said:

The mother came home and saw the door is open; she went inside and looked for the children.

This parent is only describing the picture.

The first parent is imagining what is beyond the picture and text. This is a richer way to tell a story to children, and ultimately leads to better cognitive developmental outcomes for children. This is because it teaches abstract thinking, which is the basis for many of the higher order cognitive abilities such as problem solving and critical analysis.

4. Make logical links between different parts of the story

Another element that has a strong link to the development of children’s cognitive skills is the way parents build logical links between different parts of the story.

Often the events in books unfold very quickly. One minute, the wolf eats the little goats, and the next minute he is found by the mother. Some parents try to make the sequence of events more logical than others.

For example, in this picture, when the wolf is coming to knock on the door, one parent said:

The wolf, who realised the mother is not home, came and knocked on the door.

This sentence is lacking logical links. How did the wolf know the mother is not home? Why should he come and knock on the door? What did he want?

Another parent said:

The wolf, who was sunbathing in the bush, saw that the mother is going to get some food. He thought, oh, the little goats are alone at home, and it’s a good time for me to go and trick them and maybe get a good lunch!

The parent here is clearly providing logical links between these different parts of the story.

5. Add relevant details

We also found most parents add many details to the story to make it more interesting or comprehensive. But relevant details are the most useful in terms of improving children’s learning. Relevant details are the kind of details that help make the story easier to understand.

For example, one parent said:

The little goat, who was wearing the yellow shirt and was the smallest said: ‘we shouldn’t open the door! How do we know this is our mother? She has just left.’

Here, wearing a yellow shirt is a descriptive detail, but it doesn’t add much to the story.

Another mother said:

The smallest one, who was also the cleverest and very careful, said…

This second parent is clearly adding a detail (that the smaller one is also the cleverest and careful) that makes the story more meaningful and easier to follow.

6. Talk about mental and emotional concepts

We found parents who not only describe the events of a story but also discuss abstract concepts related to emotions, desires and thoughts tend to have children who are better cognitively skilled. These children develop a better understanding of others’ emotions, better friendship skills, and even improved memory and higher order cognitive skills that are useful in later life. These lead to academic success as well as better skills to build friendships and perform well in social relationships.

Do you remember the first book you ever read? For me, it was the “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” a famous Norwegian fairy tale complete with fattened goats, a troll, and the quest for greener pastures. I would ask my mom to read me this story almost every night as I would gaze on, listening, absorbing, and connecting the syllables and sounds. Eventually, I made it a habit, spending countless hours reading books and expanding my vocabulary.

As it happens, the whole basis of literacy at home is to encourage and foster children’s building of vocabulary and to instill a sense of joy for both writing and reading. This can be done by first considering what kinds of materials to have on hand and then arranging those materials so that your child has easy access to them. But how does setting up a bookshelf translate into literacy? These four tips can help you discover some ways to get your child leafing through books at home.

1. Focus on Vocabulary

Just as with learning any language, building vocabulary is the most important aspect of literacy. Help your child make an effort to learn new words. You can do this by encouraging her to look up big words as you are reading together instead of skipping over them. Be sure to give your child concise definitions that are easily understood at his level of comprehension. Focus on technical words that children need in order to understand a concept they are currently learning about, such as sonar mapping of the ocean floor for her second-grade science project. Try to find concrete examples of new words when you are out in the community so your child can make connections and reinforce learned vocabulary.

2. Model Good Habits

It’s no secret that children will mimic what they see others around them doing. When children see the adults in their lives using reading and writing, they’re more likely to become readers and writers themselves. Set up a reading nook with a bookshelf of books that you actively engage with. Read literature in magazines and the local newspaper. Read suitable graphic novels together on your child’s iPad. Simply reading or journaling alongside your child as he does his school work emphasizes the importance that these tasks serve in everyday life and will reinforce good habits.

3. Actionable Steps

Looking for some specific tips on what you can do to instill in your child a passion for reading and writing? Dr. Timothy Shanahan is an internationally-recognized professor of urban education and reading researcher who shared his best practices with Reading Rockets, and these were some of my personal favorites:

  • Talk to your kids (a lot). You may be hesitant to use complex words with your youngster, but this actually helps in her development of literacy skills. Research suggests that exposing your child to a variety of words helps to stretch his capabilities and builds up a reservoir for conceptual understanding.
  • Teach phonics and phonemic awareness. Play language games so children begin to recognize sounds and their associations to letters.
  • Have your child tell you a story. Write it down as a dictation, and read it aloud to them. Then, read together what you’ve written. Keep the words your child begins to recognize in a word bank for later review.

To Dr. Shanahan’s list I would add some of my own points:

  • Bargain bins at bookstores offer a great way to save on bringing new books into your home.
  • Have children read the books which go along with a favorite movie, such as Bridge to Terabithia.
  • Watch movies or TV shows with the subtitles switched on.
  • Encourage your child to re-read favorite books and poems. Re-reading helps kids read more quickly and accurately.
  • Help your child to correct his own reading errors through re-reading and asking guided questions.

4. Don’t Forget About Writing!

When discussing literacy, writing can often be overlooked but is just as essential to practice as reading at home. Have them practice writing by asking your child to help you write out the grocery list, a thank you note to Grandma, or to keep a journal of special things that happen at home. When writing, encourage your child to use the letter and sound patterns he is learning at school.

Providing an array of materials, modeling good behavior, and a willingness to devote time every day to practicing reading and writing are bound to cultivate a natural appreciation of these skills. It all starts with one great book. One great book about three billy goats, in my case.

Your child has developed from simply sounding-out words to comprehending and analyzing complex text – signs of a skilled reader. But there’s still much you can do to help him grow further. Learn more about 6th grade reading so you can help your child sustain his love for reading and navigate through expectations at school.

Comprehension in 6th grade reading

Comprehension for a 6th grade reader involves understanding text and ideas on many levels. He is expected to think about and reflect on math, science, and history texts. Help your child understand what he’s reading by using these strategies:

  • Discuss what your child already knows about the subject.
  • Have him explain whether or not text makes sense; this is called “monitoring understanding”.
  • Encourage re-reading to help clarify understanding.
  • Suggest he write down main ideas and supporting details of each paragraph.
  • Have him write down questions or ask them aloud during reading.

В 6th Grade reading: Behind the Story

In language arts class,В reading involves a variety of genres and techniques that cover complex historical fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and online texts. Many of the techniques involve a careful review of story and author approaches. Support your 6th grader by suggesting she read a variety of genres independently, and to think further about storylines with these tips:

  • Ask questions about her reading like “what problem did the main character overcome”?
  • Ask her to visualize and then describe what’s happening in the text.
  • Have her make predictions about what might happen next, even predictions about what happens after the end.
  • Have a discussion comparing styles of different authors. Ask her about the way each writer describes settings or uses dialogue.

6th Grade reading: Word up

Words and their meaning are cornerstones in reading. Your child learns new key vocabulary words in every subject area of school, so keep plenty of dictionaries and thesauruses on hand. Here are more tips to help your sixth grade reader get used to new words:

  • Have him create flashcards with a new word on the front of the card and its definition on the back, and make a game out of using them.
  • Use the new words as often as you can in everyday life to guarantee exposure.
  • Have your child write down unfamiliar words on sticky notes during family reading time and look them up later.

How to help your kids love reading as much as you do

“Mom! Dad! Can we go to the library to check out a big stack of books? After I do all of my chores, I would really like to spend the rest of the afternoon reading quietly!”

. said no child, ever.

Just kidding. Some kids really do love to read! Actually, it’s natural for children to love to read. And that’s a wonderful thing. Research shows that kids who love to read often have bigger vocabularies, better problem solving abilities, and a higher degree of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to “identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways.”

If you’d like to see your child reading more — especially over the summer holidays, while school’s out of session — there are steps you can take to help that come about. (And no, bribing your child with a scoop of ice cream for finishing Anne of Green Gables is not one of them!)

If your child seems highly-resistant to reading — perhaps because of boring, unpleasant experiences in the past — try to figure out which kinds of books might spark excitement, and start there.

After all, if your child has at least one positive, engrossing, exciting experience with a book, he or she will be far more likely to want to read more!

Ready to ignite a lifelong love affair with books?

Here are 5 questions that can help you to light the first spark:

1. Which movies, TV shows and video games does your child love?

Is your child glued to the Cinderella movie?

Constantly re-playing the soundtrack from Inside Out?

Begging to watch the next episode of the TV show Arthur?

If there’s a plot line that your child already loves, tell them, “How about reading the book version of that [show / film]? I bet it’s got even more details that aren’t in the movie about all the characters you love. Let’s head to the library and see if they have it. “

Someday (hopefully!) your child’s appetite for books will expand beyond the realm of film-and-TV-related titles, but this can be a good place to begin — especially if your child is super-resistant to reading.

2. What is your child passionate about?

Does your child enjoy watching endless YouTube clips of jaw-dropping surf competitions? You could recommend a memoir written by a young surfing champion who has succeeded despite incredible adversity.

Is your child a budding entrepreneur who’d love to make some extra cash over the summer holidays? A book on teen-entrepreneurship could be just the ticket.

Encourage your child to read books on topics that he or she already loves, especially over summer break when there’s less homework and “required reading” to do. This can spark a love of books that may eventually spread, like wildfire, into other topics too.

3. Who are your child’s role models and heroes?

If your child idolizes a particular athlete, actor, musician, celebrity, blogger, writer, or some other public figure, do some Googling and see if you can find out if that person has written a book, has been featured in a book, or has a favorite book of their own (that they’ve mentioned in an interview, for example).

If it’s an age-appropriate book (of course), you can say to your child, “Did you know that [name of hero’s] favorite book of all time is [title]? Would you like to read it, too?”

4. Does your child have a competitive streak?

If so, why not hold a family-wide reading competition?

Create a score chart, put it on the fridge, and have everyone in the household participate. Whoever reads the most number of books (or pages, if you decide that’s more fair) within a set period of time wins a fabulous prize!

The prize could be: a special trip to a theme park, a new t-shirt that your kid has been ogling, an iTunes gift certificate, whatever you deem fair.

Note: this is not “bribery” because you are not trying to persuade your child to comply with the “bare minimum” that is expected in your household. You are rewarding your child for going “above and beyond” and for doing something exceptional (say, reading seven books in one month). There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy competition to get everyone’s book-reading-engines roaring. (Grown ups included!)

5. What are YOU reading these days?

It’s tough to inspire your child to read more if you don’t read much, yourself. You are the single most influential figure in your child’s life, so be sure to model the kind of behavior that you wish to see.

Set aside the phone, laptop and tablet, pull out a great book, and dive in with passion. Talk about what you’re reading around the dinner table. Plan special trips to the library and bookstore. Read together, side by side, both of you snuggled up on the sofa with your books. You can also take turns to read out loud to each other.
If your child sees you reading, and loving it, then he or she will be far more likely to follow in your footsteps.

But you’ve got to take that first step — and turn the first page.
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PS. Not sure if a book is going to be OK for your child? Simple solution: read it yourself, first. Bonus: if you pass it along to your child, afterwards, you’ll be able to chat with them about it, book club-style!

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Dr. Suzanne Gelb is a clinical psychologist, life coach and family law attorney.

She believes that it is never too late to become the person you want to be. Strong. Confident. Calm. Creative. Free of all of the burdens that have held you back — no matter what has happened in the past.

Her insights on personal growth have been featured on more than 200 radio programs, 200 TV interviews and online at TIME, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Daily Love, MindBodyGreen, and many other places.

Step into her virtual office at DrSuzanneGelb.com, explore her blog or sign up to receive a free meditation and her weekly writings on health, happiness and self-respect.

Disclaimer: This article, including all of its links, is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your health practitioner before beginning any new health or well-being practice for yourself or your family.

Good reads … picking up a book for pleasure helps with maths as well as spelling and vocabulary. Photograph: RelaXimages/Corbis

Good reads … picking up a book for pleasure helps with maths as well as spelling and vocabulary. Photograph: RelaXimages/Corbis

It won’t surprise anyone that bright children tend to read for pleasure more than their less skilled peers. But does reading for pleasure increase the rate of children’s learning? This is the question Matt Brown and I set out to answer using the British Cohort Study, which follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born in a single week in 1970 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Every few years we interview the study participants to track different aspects of their lives, from education and employment to physical and mental health – an approach that lets us look at what influences an individual’s development over a long period of time.

Of the 17,000 members, 6,000 took a range of cognitive tests at age 16. We compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less. In other words, reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, both in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics. In fact, the impact was around four times greater than that of having a parent with a post-secondary degree.

Reading clearly introduces young people to new words, so the link between reading for pleasure and vocabulary development is expected. But the link between reading for fun and progress in maths may be more surprising. I would suggest that reading also introduces young people to new ideas. Along with teaching them new vocabulary, it helps them understand and absorb new information and concepts at school. Independent reading may also promote a more self-sufficient approach to learning in general.

Some people are concerned that young people today read less in their spare time than previous generations. This is particularly worrying because our research suggests that it is likely to negatively affect their intellectual development. We also know that reading for pleasure tends to decline in secondary school. Our findings emphasise how important it is for schools and libraries to provide access to a wide range of books and help young people discover authors they will enjoy.

Another question we asked was whether the effects of reading for pleasure continue into adult life. We will soon be able to find out, thanks to the 1970 cohort members who were interviewed again in 2012, at the age of 42. We asked them once more about their reading habits, and about many other aspects of their lives.

The study will continue to follow them as they age, when we will be able to examine whether reading protects them against cognitive decline. Without the extraordinary generosity of these people, who by happenstance find themselves in our study, we couldn’t research these and other vital questions.