With extended time at home, parents and teachers all want to continue encouraging independent reading.
Here are some ways to help young readers enjoy their independent reading time — and make it fun and highly productive.
- Set up the reading environment for success
Ask your child or student where they think they’d enjoy reading the most. See if there’s a spot where they’d be most comfortable enjoying a good book. You can also consider adding supplies to help them with their reading, like sticky notes, pens, and notebooks. If there are any charts from school that would be helpful for kids to have, see if you can provide print outs so parents can display these in the space as well.
If they’re working on their reading stamina, you could set up a timer nearby — a kitchen timer, a timer on their device, or even ask Alexa to help!
- Offer up plenty of choices
Give kids plenty of book and text choices. If you don’t have many books at home, here are some digital options that teachers and literary coaches love: Epic, Raz kids/A-Z Readers, Newsela, Scholastic, Libby/Hoopla, Myon, Pebble Go, Britannica Online, and Learning Ally.
Think beyond books and offer up access to different types of texts — poems, songs, non-fiction, fiction, magazines, or favorite read alouds.
With plenty of reading choices ready to go, give kids a menu of options for how to use reading time as well.
Make it a game for primary readers. Roll a die and see where it lands:
- 1 reread to change your voice (match character)
- 2 find the word wall words/snap words/sight words
- 3 reenact the story (act it out, puppets, etc.)
- 4 reread with a smooth voice
- 5 reread to pay attention to the ending punctuation
- 6 reread to pay attention to font changes
- Discuss their reading experience
When students discuss their reading experience, it helps them improve comprehension, listening, and speaking skills. See if you can set up a video or voice call with a friend to talk about what they’re reading. If no friends are available, they can also do this with a family member at home. See if kids can not just retell what they read, but respond to questions such Can they talk about ideas from the book with a family member (not just tell what happened or retell) but respond to questions such as:
- “What are you thinking now?”
- “Why do you think ________ happened?”
- “Was there a lesson/message we can take away from this story?”
Also, see if you can ask kids to jot down their reaction on a sticky note in a reading response notebook.
As you support your reader in gaining independence at home, keep in mind that less is more. There’s no need to overdo it and try to get them reading and loving it right away. Take your time, experiment with different suggestions from this article, and see what works.
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