Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guide Your Child’s Reading and Make It Fun

I continue to expand the list of bloggers who promote middle-grade (and other) children's books and their authors (MG Book Bloggers List). These are bloggers who invite authors to send their work for review, who interview authors, offer book giveaways, and other author-friendly services. I am also expanding the list of websites that, while not as directly responsive to authors as bloggers, are helpful to those who purchase children's books and to writers who wish to increase their knowledge of children's literature and all things pertaining to children's publishing and literacy (Sites That Promote Children's Books). I welcome your suggestions for additions, corrections, updates, etc..

Today, as a change from lists, my blog covers some of ways children benefit when adults guide their reading and read aloud to them, or they themselves read aloud.

The results of several studies suggest that children’s reading fluency and comprehension improve when adults read stories aloud to them. Even when studies fail to show a direct link between the two, the evidence strongly suggests that reading aloud, when combined with the child’s reading lessons at school, can make a contribution to that child’s reading proficiency. Studies have shown an even stronger result when parents and teachers encourage children to read a story aloud and provide guidance.

Here are some suggestions I've gathered from around the Internet that you can use to guide your child’s reading:
  • Ask your child to guess what a new book is about from looking at its cover and title.
  • Explain some of the bigger words in the story.
  • Talk about words that have multiple meanings.
  • Ask your child to point to the words while reading.
  • Encourage your child to spell out words and combine sounds.
  • Allow your child time to read difficult words.
  • Don’t interrupt as the child reads.
  • Offer clues and encouragement when the child falters.
  • Encourage your child to repeat difficult words and sentences.
  • Ask your child to tell you in his/her own words what a difficult sentence or phrase means.
  • Discuss the story while reading and afterward.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about the book while reading and afterward.
  • Ask your child to summarize the story in his/her own words.
  • Praise the child’s efforts.
  • Be patient.
  • A few days after your child reads a new book, ask him or her to “remind” you of what the story was about.
If your child is to become an enthusiastic, and therefore proficient, reader, reading must be fun. Here are a few suggestions for making it fun:

  • Ask your child to suggest a book, but be sure it’s not too difficult. It’s better to choose an easy book than one that will risk turning the reading session into a chore. The key here is that the reading material must be something your child wants to read, not what you think your child should read.
  • If your child suggests a comic book, welcome the choice. The highly visual medium of the comic book can lure children into reading, especially boys, who are traditionally more reluctant than girls to pick up a book.
  • If your child can’t think of a book, start with books that relate to your child’s hobbies and interests but of course make sure they’re not too difficult.
  • Be sure to convey your own enthusiasm for reading the book.
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals.
  • Be sure your child has a quiet spot where you both can read together undisturbed. Your child’s room at bedtime is often the best choice.
  • Keep the reading time fairly short, maybe only ten minutes for a very young child.
  • Try substituting your child’s name for a character in the story.
  • If your child has a favorite book, let him or her read it to you as often as he or she wants, even if you don’t want to hear it again.
  • Read passages of the story yourself, so your child doesn’t get tired and
  • Read slowly so your child has time to absorb the meaning.
  • Read using different voices for various characters; have fun with sound effects.
  • Encourage your child to use different voices too.
  • Act out some parts of the story with the child.
  • When traveling, have fun reading road signs and signs on storefronts.
  • Visit bookstores.
  • Try to find activities that connect with books your child has read. For example, visits to a natural history museum and zoo would tie in with books on animals.
  • Talk about books you enjoyed as a child and read them aloud if your child wants to you to.
  • Play word games with your child, including rhyming and syllable games.
  • Play board games that involve reading.
Other things you can do to motivate your child to read: 

  • Try to set aside a specific time every day for reading.
  • Don’t make the schedule feel burdensome.
  • Take your child to the library regularly. Encourage book borrowing and attending story time at the children’s library.
  • Ask friends and relatives to give your child books rather than toys.
  • Keep a variety of reading materials around your house from books and to brochures.
  • Make sure your child sees you reading for pleasure.
  • Encourage older children to read to younger ones. The older ones may enjoy showing off their skills.


  1. I'm so glad you find this post useful. I hope I can make this site useful to all who have an interest in children's literature: writers, book buyers, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, etc., etc.

  2. Hi Maggie
    Firstly, what a fabulous post. My little Gigi is 19 months so we are reading aloud alot, but your tips are excellent for a newbie mum reading to her bub. Second, your blog is a wonderful resource for MG. I am a middle grade author and I am just delighted when I find blogs that really understand and support Middle Grade so well done and thank you for linking in to the kidlit blog hop. We hope to see some reviews and recommendations and information about your books in the future, cheers Julie Anne Grasso

  3. Thank you, Julie. A quick way to read reviews of my books is to search for them on Amazon, either the electronic or the paperback versions. My Facebook page is another source of info at

  4. This post is a fabulous resource! You have so many great ideas here! One thing I love to do with my kids, especially after reading the same book 20 times, is to "change" the story. The kids just LOVE it! Although sometimes it makes them so mad - depends on their mood I guess. lol

    Thanks for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop Maggie! And I'm happy to spread the word about your website. :D

  5. You have some great ideas here and, as a teacher, I have used many. Another thing we should stress is to never use reading as a punishment (e.g., you are misbehaving so come over here and read quietly). If we do this, children will associate negative things with reading.

    1. You make a good point, Randy. Thanks for sharing.