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 theselfregulatedteacher.wordpress.com (2015).