Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Literacy Awareness – A Book is More than a Story

photo-10Do you love reading as a pleasurable, down-time activity?

Do you have a list of books to read that will take at least two lifetimes to complete?

The importance of regular modelling of reading by all us, parents and teachers, cannot be taken too lightly.  The children are looking to us to see if we place a high value on reading through our words and actions.

Last week we wrote about creating a home environment that places reading as a priority to foster a love of reading and literature in our children.

As teachers, our students see us reading a lot.  From the attendance form to story time books, teaching books to charts and labels, our students see us doing a great deal of purposeful reading in our day.

Here are some things we think about as we are reading to and with our students that you can do during your own daily reading with your Kindergarten child at home.

Reading to Your Child

  • Fluency.  As teachers and parents, we want to read aloud the story as fluently as possible.  We get a lot of practise with some of the favourite read-alouds we’ve read to students many times over the years.  However, when we can, we still read new stories to ourselves first before reading them aloud to the children.  Of course, this is more difficult when you are reading longer texts and novels but for picture books with a lot of dialogue, we want to get the intonation of the character voices “just right.”
  • Expression. Demonstrate your interest, enjoyment and enthusiasm in your children’s selected storybook, and you can make even the most banal of words sparkle with excitement for them.  We really try to have fun with the character voices in a book, and take a great deal of delight in the children’s laughter (sometimes we are laughing so hard at our own reading we have to stop the story…really!). After all, who doesn’t love creating the Wolf’s voice as Grandma in “Little Red Riding Hood”?

Reading With Your Child

  • Take a “book walk” with your child before reading a new book.  Ensure that your child can see the pages, and that you have one hand free to “track” the text (point to the words) as you are reading and to focus on key details in the pictures which may aid in your child’s comprehension of the story.
  • Draw attention to the title of the story by helping your child find the front cover of the book.  Point out the differences between the front and back covers.
  • Make predictions about what the story will be about based on the title.
  • Look at the author’s and illustrator’s names and discuss the differences in their roles, in addition to their names.  Make connections by trying to think of books you’ve already read by them, or anyone you know who has those names.
  • Comment on the title page and the dedication page.  Speculate on who the people mentioned in the dedication might be.
  • Gradually develop your child’s awareness of where stories start (Where is the first word on this page?) and which way the print goes (Show me which way you read; Show me where we read next).

Interacting With the Print

Drawing attention to the print should be an incidental, rather than a continuous activity.  In other words, it’s not necessary to use all of these suggestions each time you read a story; instead, just pick and choose what you and your child enjoy most.

  • The beginning and endings of the story, eg., most Fairy Tales begin with “Once upon a time….” and end with “…and they all lived happily ever after.”
  • Unusual print in the story, eg., words in upper letters (BOOM!); words in speech clouds (speaking aloud) or thinking bubbles (silent thoughts); animal sounds (Woof, Meow, Mooooo).
  • Names and names of places, eg., all start with an uppercase letter.
  • Repetitive words, eg., “Sometimes it looked like a Rabbit.  But it wasn’t a Rabbit./Sometimes it looked like a Bird.  But it wasn’t a Bird.” (From It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G, Shaw)
  • Rhyming words, eg., “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Encourage Your Child to Participate in the Reading

You can encourage your child to participate in the story by:

  • Pausing at certain points to enjoy the rhythm of the language, admire a beautiful picture or count the number of times the “Letter of the Week” occurs on a page.
  • Being careful to read aloud at a pace that allows for your child’s participation.
  • Engaging in “echo reading,” eg., you read a phrase or sentence and your child repeats it, or your child completes the next rhyming word or line (we use this second idea a lot with rhyming text in class).
  • Taking turns to read the character’s dialogue, eg., sharing the Wolf’s big scene, “The better to hear/see/eat you with” in “Little Red Riding Hood.”
  • Giving your child the opportunity to “read” as much of the story as possible, particularly repetitive text or dialogue, eg., Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle).
  • Praising any participation in “reading” the story by your child.
  • Enjoying the cozy time you have spent together, parents and child, reading aloud a great book.

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).

2 thoughts on “Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Literacy Awareness – A Book is More than a Story

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

    Summer Travel and Reading

    We’ve both been travelling with our own families this summer to places near and far, and the topic of “what to pack” inevitably comes up as leaving day approaches. Besides clothes, shoes and a small collection of handbags, there’s going to be few other things to consider depending upon your family’s composition.

    For families with very young children, you will probably need to bring the travel baby stroller, car seat and travel cot. We watched in awe as a young family consisting of mom, dad, infant twins, twin 3 year- olds, two baby bucket seats and a double stroller, sat opposite us on our flight. So very brave.

    For families with school-aged children, stuffed animals and a few favourite toys are necessary items for travel and as a reminder of home.

    For those of us with teenagers, you might think it’s just a big collection of personal devices.

    Well… although my family did bring their iPhones and iPads on our most recent holiday (I can’t tell you how many we brought of each because it’s embarrassing and possibly contradicts what we’re writing about), we have a surprising amount of reading material. Between the four of us we have eight books, a Kobo reader and the Globe and Mail from the morning we left Vancouver. Plus, we’re receiving and reading the daily local paper and reading numerous guidebooks and brochures we picked up along the way.

    From our gorgeous holiday location, one might wonder, “Why are you reading when you could be outside doing other things?”

    Although we are thoroughly enjoying daily all of the outdoor pursuits our holiday has to offer –swimming, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, snorkelling, walking, hiking, zip-lining–we still think it’s pretty awesome that our teenagers love to read and chose to pack books to bring with them.

    The kids read on the plane, at night before they go to bed, and yes, we’re all catching up on a bit of American Netflix at the hottest part of the day, but we’re also reading a lot. When I look around during a quiet moment here in our condo, and see that everybody is reading as a personal choice activity, I’m happy and satisfied with the decisions we made when our kids were young.

    We’ve been readers our whole lives and sharing the love of reading as a pleasurable pursuit, and fostering and modelling a love of reading at home with our children, has always been one of our highest priorities.

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

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