20 Things Parents Can Do to Raise Readers

Read Across America Day in March 2nd - The NEA has resources for parents and teachers.

By Darla Winstead - Publisher of Macaroni Kid Annapolis March 1, 2023

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Every year on March 2nd, we celebrate Read Across America Day. Many schools and communities hold special celebrations to share the joy of books and encourage a love of reading. The National Education Association (NEA) website has many resources to help kids find the right book, links to free books and resources, reading tips, recommended books by month, virtual storytime with books read by their authors, and more.

Check Out This Guide For Parents

Developing Your Child's Reading Skills: Tips for Every Age is full of ideas for parents to support their children at each step of their reading journey. The guide is broken down into age groups from infants to high school.  It also includes resources - some are listed here:   

20 Things Parents Can Do to Raise Readers

Raising Readers: What Parents Can Do by the National Education Association

  1. Read together every day. You can read the morning news at breakfast, share a story after supper, or cuddle up for a book at bedtime. A daily reading routine is something everyone can look forward to.
  2. Talk and build vocabulary. Interesting conversations build vocabulary, language skills, and knowledge about the world. Talk is a child’s best source of exposure to new words and ideas.
  3. Model reading. Kids want to do what the grownups do. Make sure your kids get to see you reading and hear you talk about it.
  4. Point out print. Read and talk about the words you see in the world around you. There’s lots to read—signs, recipes, cereal boxes, instruction manuals, bus schedules, news, maps, and menus.
  5. Visit the library. Take advantage of all the books, materials, story times, programs, and resources your local library has to offer.
  6. Create a reading-rich home. Find books at the bookstore or yard sales. Provide a special shelf or basket for kids to keep their own books and one for library books. Make sure there are quiet, comfortable places to read.
  7. Encourage your child’s reading. Praise the efforts of a soon-to-be or beginning reader. Make sure schedules of older readers include time for reading for pleasure.
  8. Keep books handy. Stash books in your bag to read aloud when you travel or have to wait at restaurants or for appointments. Or keep eBooks on your phone.
  9. Start reading traditions. Beyond bedtime stories, consider a special birthday book, holiday favorites, or a regular family read aloud night.
  10. Let kids choose books. Offer titles that explore your child’s interests, expand horizons, and offer exposure to different kinds of writing. Show them there are books where they can see themselves and books where they can see the worlds of others.
  11. Make everyone comfortable. Find a spot to read together where you are both comfortable. Sometimes kids have to move around to be comfortable.
  12. Be an active reader. Use expressive voices for characters, make sound effects, and point things out in the text and illustrations when you read aloud.
  13. Discuss what you read. Give your child enough time to absorb the story and look at the pictures as you read. Think aloud about what you are reading and looking at and encourage your child to do the same.
  14. Ask questions when you read. Ask your child to guess what comes next. Ask open-ended questions that help them relate to characters or events in the book. Let your child get involved and ask questions too–interruptions are okay!
  15. Encourage re-reading. Repetition helps kids learn. Re-reading favorite books and poems helps kids make meaningful connections between themselves and books.
  16. Connect reading and writing. Write your own reading material, like a story about your life, a story featuring your kids, or a story kids make up.
  17. Make media matter. Connect kids with appropriate technology—videos, apps, or games that help them learn new words and interesting things about the world.
  18. Get help. If you have concerns about your child’s language development, hearing, or vision, see your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
  19. Make reading an experience. Link life experiences with books, like a trip to the zoo and books about animals, or planting a garden and reading The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin.
  20. Have fun. Your idea of fun may differ from your child’s, so appreciate your child’s special joy for learning new things. Try different approaches, such as having them read to you or acting out a favorite story. Even something as simple as a story time outside can make reading together livelier and more memorable for you and your child.