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Regain Lost Ground Through a Family “Read for Pleasure” Campaign

“Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.World Book Day

Father reading to childrenIn a world rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, literacy skills are taking a hard hit. Parents have been tasked with keeping their children safe and calm amid a global crisis; working full-time, often with drastic changes in the way that work is conducted; and shouldering a huge part of the teaching load for their children’s education during a pandemic. All of these added responsibilities have been squeezed into the same 24 hours parents had before. For many, more time at home didn’t mean more free time at home.

Even as states begin to relax restrictions and return to some semblance of normalcy, we will still be dealing with the lasting repercussions of the past year’s health crisis. For some children, this means playing catch up on missed instruction and learning.

One of the most effective ways to help your child regain lost ground in literacy is through reading. “Parents of elementary school-aged children may worry that the pandemic has impacted the development of key literacy skills, but fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks for practicing reading in day-to-day life,” says Bridget Schleifer, Academic Department Chair of the Lower School at Laurel Springs School.

“For example, you can practice literacy skills daily through simple, playful tasks,” Schleifer continues. “Ask your child to read a newspaper story with you. Cook dinner together, and let your child read the recipe. Play games while you are doing daily chores, such as seeing who can come up with the most rhyming words. Even nonsensical words can help a child improve literacy skills. In this way, literacy will become part of your daily routine.”

Besides making literacy a part of the family’s daily routine, parents can also encourage their children to read for pleasure during the summer months. Today is World Book Day, the perfect day to kick off a family “reading for pleasure campaign” in your home!

Use these tips to kick off your “reading for pleasure” journey:

  1. Make reading fun. Reading should be something that children get to do rather than something they have to do. If your reader is disengaged or seems discouraged with the material, switch it up. Engagement is key to making reading fun!
  2. Remove the “academics.” Of course, reading has academic value. In fact, it is an academic necessity. But if we only relate reading to academics, students will have a harder time making the connection between reading and pleasure.
  3. Vary the options. When crafting a reading list, select books that children can read on their own and books that will challenge them.
  4. Let the readers guide the way. Let your child choose books on topics they find interesting. Learning should incorporate a child’s interests and help them develop their strengths.
  5. Include fiction and nonfiction. In a world where children are bombarded with alternate realities through gaming and technology, it’s important to help reinforce the distinction of what is real and what is not. Literature is an excellent way to approach this.
  6. Be a present participant. Remember those challenging books mentioned above? While you’ll want to encourage your child to read independently, it is imperative that you make time to read with your child. Challenging books are perfect to read together. This lets your child know you are not just sitting there – you are participating.
  7. Schedule it in. Make reading a part of your child’s daily routine. Plan time for reading – think morning break, afternoon relaxation and bedtime stories.
  8. Be a model. Children mimic what they see. When your child sees you reading for pleasure, they see it in action and that you value its importance enough to include it in your own life.

Practicing literacy skills isn’t just one more task you have to do. It is an opportunity to help your child become a lifelong learner, which in turn can help them develop the necessary skills and mindset to achieve their dreams.