Childhood Literacy: Encourage Reading Skills At Home For Free!

My kids love story time, but reading their favorite books over and over again can become a bit dry after a while. After reading Fancy Nancy for the millionth time, I knew I had to find a way to mix it up. But I didn’t want to break the bank by buying new books or investing in a reading program for my toddler, and trips to the library get tricky with a 2 year old and a newborn. It seems like every time I open Instagram or Pinterest for ideas, someone is trying to sell me a new product or convince me to buy a course. 

Before I became a mom, I was a high school English Language Arts teacher. My passion for literature drove me to encourage teenagers to dive into books in ways that they could relate to. I recently used my experiences in the classroom to find new ways to engage with my kids while reading the books we have at home, and it can be done WITHOUT spending money!

Check out these 3 tips the next time you snuggle up for a bedtime story: 

1. Context Clues: It’s never too early to start teaching your child to use context clues! Before turning the page of a favorite story book, try asking your child questions that prompt a conversation. What do you think will happen next? Why do you think that? Is the main character happy or sad? How do we know that? What is your favorite part about the illustration? What does this picture tell us about the story? What beautiful colors, which one is your favorite? Does the picture seem excited or calm to you? Who/what do you see in the picture? 

2. Keep The Fun Going: Once the story is finished, ask your child to think about a continued ending. What happens after the princess finds her prince? Do the farm animals have a new friend join them on the farm? What do you think happens after “And they lived happily ever after”?

3. About The Author: This one is my favorite! To encourage thinking beyond the story, encourage your children the think about the author. You can print out a mini bio on the author and maybe even include a picture, and tape them on the inside cover of the book. Before reading the story, read the bio and have the child think for a moment. Then prompt the child to connect the author to the story they wrote. Do you think the author used their own life to inspire this story? How? Do you think they faced challenges similar to the characters in this story? Can you relate to this author? 

These skills are incredibly foundational and will serve as tools throughout your child’s life! Whether it’s using context clues in their high school English class or using whole-brain thinking to predict an outcome at their future job, these exercises can help you invest in your child’s future and keep story time fun and exciting!