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Helping your child succeed | Start the new year with home reading activities

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Many parents are always looking for reading activities that will not only help their children become better readers, but ones that they will enjoy doing as well.

One activity that has numerous benefits for children, and gets them excited about reading is listening to stories that are read aloud to them. Reading aloud to your child can be one of your best parenting experiences, and you and your child will create many loving memories as you explore books together. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Make reading a daily experience

When a child is very young, it is the sound of your voice, not the words that they love. Reading with a child — even before they are born — helps you and your child bond, discover new things, and create precious memories together. It is also a wonderful routine to help your child prepare for bedtime. Like all habits, this one may take a while to get established but hang in there until it is a daily or nightly routine.

Create a family reading night

You have a family game night, why not family book night? There are lots of ways to make reading together a lot of fun. Gather around. Turn off the lights. Turn on a cozy lamp. Flop on the pillows, and get comfortable. When you are reading, be versatile in your approach. You read to your children or they read to you in turns, or you read to them and they read along with their own copies, or you read a page and they read a page.

Build reading into an activity your kid loves

When you are watching TV, turn on the subtitles. It is an easy, non-threatening way to match something they want (TV) with something you want (reading). They will get used to the subtitles very quickly and it is a big help.

Plan a family adventure to the library

Kids love adventures, so get them involved. Make plans together, to prepare for and then celebrate the first trip to the library. Plan a book party when you get home? Be sure to prepare the kids before you go. The library is a unique place, and you will need to take the time to explain how a library works, just as you explain the dos and don’ts of other places, like church and visiting family and friends.

Have a family storytelling night

An enjoyable alternative to reading aloud can be the stories that you tell yourself! Your children will enjoy the tall tales you make up, or the family stories that you remember but be sure to read books or tell a story every day!

Pick some award-winning books to read together. Parents can readily find award-winning material that can encourage a child’s love of reading. While the Newbery and Caldecott Medals are the most widely recognized awards for children’s literature, they are by no means the only awards for children’s books. Anyone interested in finding the best of children’s literature can find an award winner in any given genre, for any given age.

Your children will probably want you to continue reading to them long after they are capable of doing so independently. That is because reading aloud is not just about reading. It is a warm, loving experience that you can continue for as long as your children desire.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 29 years of professional experience. You can write to her at with your questions or comments.