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07/01/2020 12:00:00


HomeOur Work / For Families / Articles for Families on Literacy / Fall in Love with Reading: Ten Simple Things you Can Do at Home

There are many ways to enjoy reading with your child. Here are a few ways to make reading a fun part of your everyday life.

  1.  Develop family reading routines and rituals

Find a regular time of day when you can dedicate story time into your day. You can read in the morning, after school, or before bedtime! Making story time a cozy routine makes reading an essential and pleasant activity.

  1. Read what interests your child

The nutrition facts on the milk box, newspapers, recipes, maps, and game instructions all make great reading material if your child is interested.

  1. Try books that reflect your daily experiences

Making connections to topics you read about is a fun way to keep children engaged. For example, you can read You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum with your child before or after visiting an art museum. This opens up opportunities for conversations like discussing similarities and differences between the book and the museum visit.

Or read Dr. Seuss’s In a People House and then ask your child if they see any similar items, how they work, or even create a new book based on what’s inside your own home.

  1. Let your child select books

When you visit the library, let your child select books. Try both fiction and informational books, and ask the librarian for recommendations based on your child’s interests.

  1. Reread your child’s favorites

It’s common for young children to request the same book again and again. Re-reading familiar stories offers children a chance to absorb information over time and lets them master the whole story.

  1. Encourage storytelling

Encourage your child to tell you a story from time to time or to retell a story after you’ve read it several times. Don’t feel the need to correct how she’s telling the story. Let her enjoy the experience of storytelling.

  1. Have fun while reading

Try whatever style feels comfortable for you and your child. Some ways families have fun with stories include:

  • Acting out the story while reading by using facial expressions, gestures, body movements, and voices to make the story come to life.
  • Making the story relevant to your child’s life by adapting the story to include her name, a friend’s name, or your pet’s name. For example, surprise your child by saying “Olivia, Olivia, what do you see?” when you read Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Finding props to go along with favorite stories and offering them to your child to use in her play.
  1. Change your setting!

It can be fun to read books in different places in and around your home. Try reading Eric Carle’s The Very Lonely Firefly in a dark room with a flashlight. I’ve read The Lamb and the Butterfly (written by Arnold Sundgaard, illustrated by Eric Carle) to a group of four-year-olds on the grass, and when they saw a butterfly fly by, they associated it with the one in the story! You can even ask your child where she wants to read a particular story.

  1. Try one of these books that trigger children's interest in reading

Adam Lehrhaupt’s Warning: Do Not Open This Book! Is a great example of a book that draws children into the act of reading. Children wonder: “Why can’t I open this book?” and read on. Here are some others:

  • Don’t Push The Button by Bill Cotter
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • How To Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens I
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Maisy’s Fairground by Lucy Cousins 
  • My Granny’s Purse And My Mummy’s Bag by P. H. Hanson
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet
  • Tap to Play by Salina Yoon
  • The Foggy Foggy forest by Nick Sharratt
  • Where’s Wally? by Martin Handford
  1. Get to know your child and your own reading style
  • Knowing your child and your own reading style is important for three main reasons:
  • It offers you an opportunity to observe what interests your child. Be it science, art, interactive books or wordless books, you will figure out her current interest and support her in appropriate ways.
  • You won’t impose your preferences on your child; instead, you will share what you like with each other and get a chance to explore those beyond your favorites.
  • It allows your child to understand and respect that every individual reads differently and it is okay.

There are lots of ways to encourage and enjoy reading. Try these ideas and do more of what your child enjoys.

Yi-Chin Lan received her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. When she worked as a kindergarten teacher, she read her students at least three books a day. Her favorite picture books are Miss Rumphius, Guess how much I love you, and Not a box. She can be reached at

Audience: Family

Age: Early Primary, Infant/Toddler, Kindergarten, Preschool

Topics: Subject Areas, Literacy, Children's Books, Reading


13 Things a Baby Learns

06/01/2020 12:00:00


Our Work / For Families / Articles for Families on Literacy / 13 Things Babies Learn When We Read with Them

By Julia Luckenbill

We all know that it’s good to read to our babies.  But what exactly are they learning? Here are just some of the things your baby can learn as you read together.

  1. Books contain wonderful stories and songs that I can hear over and over again.
  2. Reading time is a time when I am held and loved.
  3. You tell me the names of my body parts, the sounds different animals make, and that animals go to sleep too.
  4. Some books are especially enjoyable and I can hear them again and again.
  5. Every time we read I hear how words are used, listen to rich language, and learn new words.
  6. The letters, words, and pictures you point to, all have meaning.
  7. I can explore how books are the same and how they are different by tasting and touching them.
  8. There is always something hiding behind the flap; my favorite pictures are always in the same place in a book.
  9. Listening is part of communication and language includes listening and understanding. 
  10. Things come in different colors, sizes, and shape.     
  11. It’s fun to play with language, and explore rhythm, rhyme and humor.
  12. When I do something, another thing happens; if I point at a picture, my mom or dad will tell me its name. If I drop the book, we might stop reading.    
  13. I love books and one day I will love to read on my own.  

© National Association for the Education of Young Children — promoting excellence in early childhood education

When Mom has a temper tantrum

05/01/2020 12:00:00


            When Mom Has a Temper Tantrum

By Melanie Howard

Each month, my five-year-old son's kindergarten class compiles a "book of days," in which the children share their daily home experiences with one another. The next month, the book gets circulated to all the parents. Imagine my chagrin when James brought last month's book home, and there—between "Mollie and her mom made brownies" and "Jeremy helped his dad take out the trash"—was "James's mom was angry with him this morning." My temper, in writing, laminated and distributed for all the world to see.

Worse yet, I realized that almost all our recent mornings had degenerated into Mommy screamathons over seemingly minor matters—dawdling, misplaced gloves, sibling bickering. I felt terrible, and obviously James did, too. How could we break this angry pattern?

"Yelling is usually a sign that a parent has no strategy," says Thomas Phelan, a clinical psychologist in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and the author of the popular 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (Child Management, Inc.). At a loss for what to do, moms may resort to yelling out of anger or frustration. But the end result is that parents feel guilty and children get the emotional message that they are bad.

It's because we love our children so dearly that they are able to provoke such strong feelings of anger in us, according to Nancy Samalin, a New York City–based parent educator and the author of Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma (Penguin Paperbacks). But that doesn't make expressing that anger through hollering or put-downs appropriate—or effective. Samalin, who has conducted workshops for parents of toddlers through teens for more than 25 years, says the key is to feel and acknowledge your emotions but not let them control you and make you act irrationally.

Samalin and Phelan recommend drawing on these following strategies when your kids are driving you up the wall:

  • Exit or wait. When you feel your anger getting the better of you, briefly withdraw from the situation until you calm down, Samalin writes in Love and Anger. Phelan agrees: He suggests stepping out of the room, counting to ten, going to your bedroom, and closing the door—whatever it takes to restore your cool.
  • "I," not "you." Avoid attacking your child with "you" statements—"You are such a slob!" or "You'll never learn." Instead, think in terms of "I": "I don't like picking clothes up off your floor every day" or "I get upset when we're not on time." These are less hurtful and inflammatory.
  • Put it in writing. If you are too angry to speak, don't. If your child is old enough to read, express your feelings in writing. Sometimes just the time required to find pen and paper will help you to cool off.
  • Stay in the present. When your child makes you angry, don't work yourself into a tizzy by listing every offense he has committed in the past week and is likely to commit in the future. Stick to the issue at hand.
  • Restore good feelings. When you do lose it, reconnect with your child as soon as possible. That may mean saying you're sorry and giving a hug and kiss to a younger child. For an older child, you may want to offer an explanation of why you were angry along with an apology. Don't worry that apologizing will diminish your authority—it won't. It shows your child that you respect him and teaches him that everyone can be wrong sometimes.
  • Recognize what the problem is. Is it really your child's messy room? Or are you sleep-deprived? Feeling overwhelmed at work? Mad at your husband or mother or boss? Be aware of when you are more vulnerable to anger and resist the urge to transfer negative feelings to your child.
  • Make yourself—and all family members—accountable for lashing out. Institute a "no losing it" rule to make kids and parents aware of the times they go ballistic. But do it with a light touch. For instance, make a chart and tack on a sticker when one of you has an outburst. If one family member is accumulating a lot of stickers, it's time to talk about it.
  • Carry a tape recorder. When you feel yourself about to blow, turn it on. If you explode anyway, play back the tape and imagine yourself as the child on the receiving end.
  • Use cognitive therapy. This technique is sometimes used to calm fearful fliers. Analyze your thoughts and put them in perspective—or, as Phelan puts it, "deawfulize" the situation. (Fliers learn that their fear is of crashing, not flying. And since crashing is unlikely, their fear is not reasonable.) Ask yourself—when your children are fighting, say—if it's really that horrible. Think of the situation as aggravating but normal behavior that merits a calm, rational parental response.

Melanie Howard is a writer and a mother of two. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

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