This is part four of a five-part series in collaboration with Scholastic. Read part one on “Bringing Your Family Together with Books.” For more great reading tips for kids of all ages, please see the Scholastic Parents: Raise a Reader blog.
As your kids move through their last years of elementary and middle school, it's important to stay tuned to the time they spend reading for pleasure, compared to their more formal, school-based reading. They're making the decisions about the books they want to spend time with, and it's essential to reinforce this confidence. What's one of the greatest ways to do this? Encourage conversation with them about their reading. Like I discussed in an earlier post on bringing your family together with books, it's up to you to make talking about books count with your kids. Here are four tips for sparking conversation.
1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Engage your kids in a discussion about the ideas, opinions, and feelings they get from the books they're reading. Ask questions that don’t have one "right" or "wrong" answer, such as, "What would you talk to the main characters about if you ever met them?" Or, "What do or don’t you like about the book so far?" And, "How could this book change the way you think about something?" Talk about the illustrations of a book too, asking: "How might this drawing tell us more about what’s happening?" or "What does this picture show us about the character?"
2. Make the Book Come Alive!
Let your own memory awaken when hearing about your kids' books. Tell a family story that relates to the stories they're reading. Connect a book to what you cook for dinner (for instance, make a Thunder Cake while they're reading Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco). Read your daughter's favorite book about soccer after her soccer match. Act out a chapter of your son's book with him, using funny voices for each character. Visit online apps that help you and your kids make stories and cartoons together.
3. Love the Words
According to the most recent Kids and Family Reading Report, 84% of parents want their kids to gain vocabulary and language skills from reading. A great way to increase your kids' vocabulary is showing them how to pay attention to language as they read. For instance, keep a "Word Jar" with words that intrigue both of you, for ongoing and growing exploration. Put a dry erase board up in the kitchen to track "Curious Words" they notice. Savor the new vocabulary they're learning with them.
4. Host a Family Book Club
Have your family pick a book to read aloud together or get a couple of copies of the same book to read individually. Set aside time during the week for your Family Book Club's meeting, and talk about what everyone's read so far. Find out whose favorite characters are whose, and why. Invite aunts, cousins, and grandparents to join the Club. If they live far away, use FaceTime or Google Hangouts to include them. Make your literary gathering more festive by serving a delicious meal or dessert to accompany it!