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  • S.P. Lowe

FOR PARENTS: Encouraging Literacy

Encouraging literacy in children is crucial for their cognitive development and future success. Here are five effective ways parents can foster literacy skills in their children:

  1. Read Together Regularly: Make reading a daily or weekly ritual by setting aside dedicated time for reading together. Choose age-appropriate books that match your child's interests and reading level. For example, some fourth-sixth graders are able to read middle grade books, like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Candy Sky Tells A Lie; but others may still need shorter reads, such as chapbooks or graphic novels. (I 100% support graphic novels, especially for kids who need visuals or struggle with reading.) Ask them to read aloud, and take turns reading paragraphs or pages (also called "Popcorn Reading"). Discuss the story, characters, and ask open-ended questions to promote comprehension and critical thinking.

  2. Create a Reading-Friendly Environment: Designate a cozy reading corner or space in your home, and let your child help decorate and fill it with a variety of books, magazines, and reading materials. Ensure good lighting and comfortable blankets and pillows to make it an inviting place for your child to curl up with a book. Furthermore, display books prominently in their bedroom and around the house to foster a bookish atmosphere.

  3. Visit the Library: Take your child to the local library regularly. Allow them to explore the library shelves and choose books that interest them. Many libraries also offer reading programs, clubs, and events for kids. While some clubs may not seem book related (like Pokémon Club or Minecraft Club), the idea is to give kids a positive environment to express their interests. Literacy skills blossom when kids view libraries and books as a safe place.

  4. Be a Reading Role Model: Children often emulate their parents' behavior. Let your child see you reading books, magazines, or newspapers. I can't tell you how many times my son has mimicked me writing simply because he sees me filling my journal or typing on my computer. He now keeps a journal that he scribbles in before telling me a story based on the scribbles. (Keep in mind that he is four years old.) Thus, share your own reading experiences and enthusiasm for literature. Go as far a discussing what you're reading (if it's appropriate) and how it relates to your life or interests.

  5. Promote Writing and Storytelling: Encourage your child to write their stories, journal entries, or creative pieces. Provide them with a notebook or journal and let them express themselves through writing. You can also suggest fun writing exercises, such as creating character trading cards or creating a family newsletter. There are plenty of youth writing communities available so kids can connect with other young writers--and even publish their first written work! This not only enhances their writing skills but also boosts their creativity.

In addition to these strategies, it's essential to be patient and supportive throughout your child's literacy journey. Celebrate their reading milestones, and don't pressure them if they struggle with certain aspects of reading. Every child's pace and preferences are unique, so tailor your approach to their individual needs and interests. This can range from full-length novels to baseball magazines or videogame guides. By creating a positive and engaging reading environment, you can help your child develop a lifelong love of reading and literacy.


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