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Tips to Encourage Family Reading Time

Family Reading-Reading With Your Family Below, Kathleen Deerr, National Coordinator for Family Place Libraries™(an early literacy and family support initiative of Middle Country Library and Libraries for the Future, in New York), provides helpful tips on reading with your child and engaging the entire family—even the extended family—in family reading time. How can parents who read to more than one child at a time keep everyone engaged?
Reading together as a family can be one of the best ways to promote family togetherness. Encourage your children to ask questions throughout the story and predict what might happen on the next page. This is also a great opportunity for older children to be encouraged to read to younger children. Depending on the ages of the younger children, they might not be able to sit still for an entire story. Keep them involved with the family activity by giving them a puzzle to play with or letting them look through another book. The act of reading together provides children with loving, enjoyable and nurturing experiences. These experiences enable children to develop positive and fun attitudes towards books and reading.

Outside of reading on the couch and at bedtime, are there other places where family reading time can take place?
Everywhere! Make it a habit to bring books everywhere you go. Have books in the car, bring books to the grocery store and pack books for the morning subway or bus ride. Always having a book handy turns a long line at the supermarket or wait at the mechanic into some special time together…rather than the alternative.

For families that speak and read in more than one language, do you have any suggestions for choosing books?
Bilingual families have the benefit of exploring the same story in both languages with their young readers. I recommend going to the library and checking out a story like, Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar in two different languages. While reading each story, you can assist your child in recognizing familiar words and practice labeling pictures in each language. Families have many choices when choosing books in several languages. Multi- and bilingual picture books, board books and fairy tales are available in the children’s section of most libraries. For parents who don’t read or speak English, sharing books in your native language is crucial for your child’s early literacy development.

How can cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents join in on family reading time?
A fun way to introduce new stories to family reading time is to encourage family members to read a story they loved when they were kids. These stories encourage families to talk about what it was like when [the older generation was] young, and teaches children that reading is an important family activity.

For more information about Family Place Libraries, go to www.familyplacelibraries.org.