The joy of family reading and the reluctant reader

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Today is Family Literacy Day, a gentle reminder about the importance and joy of reading at home. Just 15 minutes a day, say literacy advocates, can have a dramatic impact on your child’s reading abilities and develop important critical thinking skills. And, it’s fun!

I would add to this: read out loud.

Why? Not all children are avid readers, and some are struggling with learning disabilities that affect their ability to read. For these children, hearing a story read out loud is a simple yet effective way to build literacy skills, confidence and a love of reading.

ABC Canada has collected some interesting stats about the benefits of reading out loud for all types of readers–and they go far beyond literacy:

  • Reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years (Early Years Study Final Report: Reversing the Real Brain Drain, Government of Ontario, 1999).
  • The more time spent with a parent reading out loud increases a child’s level of attachment, enhances a sense of security, and imparts the knowledge that their parent feels they are worthwhile people with whom to spend time (How to Raise a Reader, 1987).
  • Having a parent or other caring person read out loud helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity (Family Literacy Foundation, 2001).

My family has been reading together at bedtime since my daughter was born nine years ago. And we haven’t stopped. Why? Because getting lost in a good story is a lovely way to relax and reconnect as a family at the end of the day.

My daughter is both a reluctant reader and a lover of books, so we bring all types of reading material to bed. Picture books, chapter books for children and adults, poetry, fables, encyclopedias, you name it. We lean towards books with a strong female lead, but nothing is off limits.

Here are a few favourites currently on our bedside table:

So if your child likes to play video games, read the Minecraft books. History lover? Why not read an encyclopedia of Greek mythology? Comics more than chapters books? Read graphic novels for children.

Forget about learning to read, and focus on loving to read. The rest will follow.

8 comments

  1. Oh how I loved Nancy and the Hardy Boys… And I loved ‘Old Peter’s Tales’- the Russians had some crazy fairy tales. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, Booksy. And the great advice. Although I have never been a remotely reluctant reader (it was a struggle getting me to stop and actually do things like sleep and eat) reading aloud en famille really helped with my confidence when having to speak in class and present to groups larger than a couple of people. Soooo many benefits to sharing through stories!

  2. Great post Anne, and of course we are of one mind. You call your daughter a reluctant reader but I am positive that it will resolve after she is 11. ( that is a neurological process) Just keep on feeding her with all those excellent books. My youngest was/is very dyslectic: he finally started reading when he was 11 but his vocabulary both in Dutch and English was above average because I read every day to him…until he was 14. He still can hardly write but solves that via computers but his reading is excellent. He is in college and with a little support from a tutor does very well. And he loves reading!

  3. My daughter is a great reader but, all grown up as she is, she still asks me to read to her sometimes. Your emphasis on loving reading is wonderful. And I am delighted to see that Rupert is alive and well. 🙂

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