Making Reading Time Count

Sharing a book with your children is one of the most special experiences you can have as a family. Snuggling up and reading a story together not only creates wonderful lasting memories, but it will help your children grow as learners. Family reading time is also a great opportunity to help your kids practice literacy skills at home. In this video, you’ll see a family sharing books together as they practice two important skills: retelling the sequence of the story and pausing to allow a child to fill in words. These are both great tricks to use with kids of all ages, so if you’re reading to multiple children, everyone can join in.

Retelling is an important skill for readers to develop. It helps them recall what they read and start to think critically about the story, a skill they will often be asked to use in the classroom. After you finish a book, recap the order of the story with your children. Go over what happened, first, next, and last. (In this video, for example, Alexander the Ant was hot in the beginning of the story, but by the end he was cool.)

Even young kids can follow along with this activity. Ask your child simple, specific questions about what changed from the beginning of the book to the end. This doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but if your child enjoys retelling, you can have even more fun by acting out the story together or drawing scenes from the book.

If your children are still engaged after you finish one book, pick another! Make your family reading time last as long as your kids are interested in it. Keep kids of different ages involved by giving them different jobs. For instance, in this video the younger sister picks the book, Mom reads it, and she stops now and then for the older brother to fill in words. Clearly this book is a cherished family favorite, and while the older brother is not quite ready to read it on his own, he knows it well enough to fill in words when Mom pauses.

Try this at home with your kids! Is there a book that he or she loves hearing again and again? Gather your kids close so you’re all looking at the page as you read the story. Occasionally pause and point to words, allowing your child to fill in the rest of the story from memory or by sight-reading. As your child’s reading skills develop, try switching off reading every other page. This is a great way to use your family’s favorite books to help your kids grow as readers.
Finding time to read with your kids every day can be a challenge, but before long you’ll all look forward to your special time together.

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