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Building Bridges Behind Bars

NYLA 2018 Annual Conference Presentation Randall Enos, Youth Services Consultant for Ramapo Catskill Library System

Make Reading Fun

10 Tips to Make Reading Fun for Your Child

By Laure Strom

Did you know that simply reading to your child is one of the best things you can do for his or her education? It’s much more valuable than just as a bedtime sleep inducer! Reading aloud to children does the following:

  • Helps them hear language in new and different ways.
  • Gives them a sense of story.
  • Leads to better performance in reading, writing, listening, and other school subjects, according to researchers.
  • Creates a bond between the reader and the child, facilitating a special memory association between reading and a happy experience.
  • Turns many children into life-long readers. And a life-long reader is a life-long learner!

10 tips to get the most out of your reading time

1. Read every day, even if you only have a few minutes. This models that daily reading is an important part of each day. Children also love a pleasant routine. They will look forward to this special time.

2. Create a cozy place to read together. It can be a special chair, or even a pile of pillows.

3. Let your child help you choose what book to read. This will help you keep the child’s interest, and it makes him feel important. Visiting a library regularly makes choosing books easy and fun.

4. Talk about the cover. Have your child guess what the book is about. Who are the characters? What is the title? Who is the author? Have you read books by this author before? Have you seen this illustrator before?

5. Change your voice to go with the characters and the action. You don’t have to be an actor, but you can at least change your inflection for a livelier storytelling experience. Make sure you don’t read too quickly, too. You don’t want to sound like you’re rushing to finish.

6. Show the pictures as you read. Not only do the pictures help a child understand and connect to the book, the illustrations often add humor and whimsy to fiction.

7. After you read the book, talk about the story. Go back and look at the pictures again and talk about what happened. Point out any hard words to see if your child can figure out what they mean by looking at the surrounding words and pictures.

8. Try to make connections to something in the story and your life or the child’s life.

9. Be sure to prompt your child to critique the book. Ask questions such as, What did you like? What did you dislike? What made you laugh? What did you learn?

10. Vary the genres that you read. Mix fiction and nonfiction. A child’s future favorite book might be in a genre he or she has not yet experienced!

Motivate Your Child

10 Ways to Motivate Your Child To Love Reading

The process of learning to read will generally be easier for a child who already loves reading. This child knows that reading is enjoyable and informative and useful. This child knows that the words and pictures on a page communicate meaning. This child has had many, many positive associations with books and reading before they come anywhere near the process of learning to independently decode sounds and letters to form words.

Here are 10 ways to help motivate your child to love reading…

1. Read together throughout the day, everyday. Both as a part of your daily routine (for example, a book before bedtime) and at other times just because. This quiet shared reading time helps your child to learn that reading is pleasurable and relaxing. Continue to make time to read aloud together even once your child begins to read independently.

2. When reading together, read with interest and enthusiasm, even if you know the words by heart.

3. Read together with a purpose. Whether it be a recipe you are cooking, a catalogue as you make a grocery shopping list, or the instructions for putting together an Ikea cabinet. Let your child see that reading is useful.

4. Integrate ‘reading’ into your play. Add takeaway menus to your play cafe or a specials board and open/closed sign to you fruit & vegetable store. Train timetables, zoo maps, road maps, telephone directories, letters to post and deliver, magazines in the doctors waiting room; these are all simple ways to playfully ‘read.’

5. Scatter reading material throughout your house, in every room.

6. Visit the library and/or book stores regularly to make new reading discoveries.

7. Read both fiction and non-fiction titles together.

8. Choose books about topics, subjects or themes your child loves.

9. Make sure your children see you regularly read for yourself. This will help them to appreciate the importance of reading in their everyday lives. Let them see you reading for pleasure and relaxation, as well as for information.

10. Look for plenty of opportunities for Dads and other male role models to be involved with reading with children, an especially important strategy for parents and teachers of boys.

Inspire Your Child

Tips for Inspiring Your Kids to Enjoy Reading

1. Think about your child’s interests.  Find books that are on topics of interest to them.

Do they like NASCAR?Animals?Video games?Hunting?Dancing?

There are books on every topic under the sun.


2. Frequently let your child select what they want to read.

80% of children say the books they enjoy most are the ones they select.


3. Make sure your child has a library card and is comfortable using it.

Libraries are doors to opportunity.Make sure your child enters them.


4. Be a good role model.  Send books home.  Read to your children on the phone or during visits.  Ask them what they’ve been reading and tell them about some of your favorite books or magazines.


5. Find reading opportunities that don’t seem like reading.

Instruction manuals.Guinness World Book of Records.Joke books. Board games.All of these help exercise the reading ‘muscles.’


6. Look for great book seriesJunie B. Jones  A to Z Mysteries.  Harry Potter.  Magic Tree House.  The Rangers Apprentice.  There are wonderful book series that can keep young readers happily busy for a while.


7. Does your child like comics?  Get some graphic novels.