Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Establish an Atmosphere for Reading at Home

sunshine readersA few weeks ago we started a Home Reading Program for our Kindergarten classes.

It’s just a simple program of emergent books and readers, where the children independently select a book to take home to read with their parents three times a week.   We have our book exchange during Centre time.  We call the children over to choose their book by our “bookkeeping” method of the ziploc bags where we’ve written their names and keep the individual books.  After the children select their new book and put it into the ziploc, they place the book inside their backpacks to go home.

Home Reading is a fun opportunity for our students to read aloud books appropriate for their reading level to their parents. But it’s not meant to replace the nightly bedtime story.

The cozy and comforting routine of a bedtime story is one of our strongest memories. We still have our childhood books: volumes of Mother Goose nursery rhymes, Fairy Tales, Just So Stories and Nancy Drew Mysteries; our favourite books include Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Little Women and Alice in Wonderland.


When our own children were born, reading the bedtime story was something we were so looking forward to doing. We were collecting storybooks to read aloud to our classes, and now we would also be able to share them with our children.

So what can you do to support your child’s love of reading and literature?

Create an atmosphere for reading at home

Books should have a place of their own at home, and be accessible at all times. Part of teaching your children to be a good reader and book lover is showing them how to care for books.  At school we have insisted on careful and respectful behaviour towards books.

  • Pick up a book carefully in one hand, or both hands if it’s a bigger book
  • Close the book when you are finished reading
  • Hold the book with both hands against your chest when walking with it
  • Put the book back on the shelf or book rack, right side up and cover facing out

Selecting books. When selecting a book, the most important thing is will your child enjoy it? Introduce new books regularly to your child. If your child has not already signed up for a membership at the Public Library in your community, now is the time. The Kindergarten children have been well taught by our Teacher-Librarian, and are able to conduct themselves appropriately in the library. This includes independently choosing a book.

Have a regular time and place for reading. Routines help us to get things done, and if it’s followed enough times it can, and will, become a good habit. For your nightly read-aloud, pick a time when you are ready to enjoy a story with your child. Many families read a story just before the children go to sleep in their beds. In our homes we sat on the sofa, with a child and book on each side. The bedtime story has to be a priority, more important than checking a Facebook newsfeed or watching “Sports Centre.” Being “present” with your child, enjoying one another’s company with a good story will make reading time very special for parent and child.

Regular modelling of reading by parents and older members of the household is essential. How do you see the role of reading in your life? To foster a love of reading, your children need to see you reading:   books, magazines, newspapers, recipes, comics and even work related documents. A lot of reading seems to be done via a personal digital device these days which is okay, but if you want your kids to read print, then that’s what they need to see you doing.

Choose books of different genres, such as Fairy Tales, poetry, wordless books, non-fiction animal books; and themes such as “Growing Up,” “Families,” holidays, personal interests and hobbies. Reading books of various lengths also teaches young readers that a powerful message or lesson doesn’t always need to be told through a long story.

At this early stage, most children are attracted to picture books or beginning chapter books which will need to be read aloud by you. These books can and should be above the children’s independent reading level. The books you are reading aloud will have the rich, diverse vocabulary and more complex sentence structure that will benefit your child’s oral vocabulary.

Finding books for your beginning reader to read independently is harder; that is how the home reading program tries to bridge the gap as we have access to the “little books” with simple vocabulary, predictable patterns and repetitive, rhythmic and rhyming language. Ask your community librarian to help you find books with these same characteristics at your local library.

We’ve written before that books are a gift that can be opened again and again. Why not consider establishing some new traditions around books like a special hardback book for each birthday with a special inscription from you? Instead of a big chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day or Easter give the joy of a beautiful book which will last so much longer, and just a small chocolate goodie. Suggest to friends and relatives that they also might give books as presents.

Our own children are teenagers now and moving into their senior years at high school this fall. Although we don’t read aloud stories or novels to them anymore, as families we still speak fondly of memories about books read aloud in the past.

Books, laughter, love…we’d call that some serious family bonding time.

Next week we’ll discuss reading to and with your child, and offer some suggestions on what you can do to encourage literacy awareness at home.

Source: “Language and Literacy in the Primary Years,” A Parents’ Information Booklet from Ridgeview Elementary (1997/98). Updated by The Self-Regulated Teacher at (2015).








6 thoughts on “Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Establish an Atmosphere for Reading at Home

  1. Pingback: Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Literacy Awareness – A Book is More than a Story | The Self-Regulated Teacher

  2. Pingback: The Classroom Newsletter: “This Week in Our Room” and the Importance of Modelling Writing for Our Kindergarten Children | The Self-Regulated Teacher

  3. Reblogged this on The Self-Regulated Teacher and commented:

    School’s out, our classrooms are tidied up and we’re officially on holiday, and that includes writing for our blog! But we’re reposting some great articles over the next two months that you may have missed, to read and catch up with the website.

    With the summer break and the hot weather we’re having right now, we love to spend some time out of the sun doing one of our favourite activities: reading. Just the thought of freedom to read whatever we want, for as long as we want, is a delicious moment to savour! It’s a great chance to visit your local library, favourite book stores, or even peruse old favourites from your home library, for reading material.

    Exploring secondhand bookstores is another fun thing to do with your family. We love to buy old books to complete collections of series we started in my childhood (I own every copy of the original 65 Nancy Drew books and Christy, the entire A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh series), or old copies of one of my favourite English series, Thrush Green by Miss Read, wonderful books about a fictional Cotswold village. The two schoolteachers, Miss Watson and Miss Fogerty, remind me that although our methods and curriculum might have changed, the sheer delight in working with young children remains the same.

    Visiting new and used bookstores while we travel is a must. If you’re in Victoria, British Columbia, you must visit Russell Books, on Fort Street. It’s just up a few doors from the delectable Dutch Bakery where you can indulge your sweet tooth.

    If you’re going down the coast, Village Books in Fairhaven, Washington, is a great destination. They have a wonderful children’s book section, and a lovely gift shop with an old fashioned candy area.

    For those travelling through Oregon, you have to go to Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon. Go upstairs to the coffee bar for a coffee and cookie–absolutely fabulous! Warning: we spent only a morning at Powell’s and felt rushed. If you have a family of book lovers, you’re going to need time. We bought 18 books on our last visit, and getting down to that number was a huge challenge at best.

    So now that you’ve bought all your books, time to start reading at home.

  4. Pingback: This Week in Our Room: June 4-9, 2017 | The Self-Regulated Teacher

  5. Pingback: Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Ways to Support Literacy at Home | The Self-Regulated Teacher

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