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Literacy in America

Unlock the Magic of Family Story Time

David Mazor

Founder, Reader to Reader

One of the most valuable things you can do to set your child on the road to success in school is to incorporate family story time into your day.

Family story time develops important pre-reading skills, including learning how to handle a book, building vocabulary, and sparking imagination. Here are some suggestions for making your story time extra special:

  • Choose a cozy space for you and your children to explore books together: Whether on a couch, a chair, or a bed, take a few moments to make it extra cozy. Rearrange the pillows, let your child snuggle up to you, and settle in so you signal that something special is about to happen.
  • Let your child lead the way: Just like adults, children have preferences. They love to hear a favorite book over and over. When they bring you a book that they have heard a hundred times, show them that you are excited to read it again, too.
  • Explore the book together: For a young child, a book is like a treasure map. Don’t be afraid to depart from the text and explore the book in different ways. Children love to find objects on the page. Ask them to find the cow, the truck, or the bird, and praise them when they do. Make reading an interactive process.
  • Listen and talk: Be patient and let your child tell you what they see in the book. When you acknowledge your child’s ideas, you are helping them develop their thinking ability and communication skills.
  • Let your child handle the book and turn the pages:Even if they skip pages, keep on reading. Your child will slowly develop a longer attention span and the ability to make it all the way through a story.
  • Connect books to your daily life: Whether it’s going to the store, cooking, or doing laundry, your daily life is a learning experience for children. Books that relate to those experiences help them understand the world they see around them.
  • Your child is never too young to hear a story: Infants and toddlers love stories. Books help them develop their communication skills even before they can talk. Rhyming words (such as cat, bat, and hat) help their brains organize words and develop auditory skills.
  • Read several stories every day: Each book unlocks your child’s imagination in a different way. Whether it’s a story about a trip to the moon, a lion cub and its mother, or riding on a bus, let each author work their special magic.
  • Make a trip to the library part of your weekly routine: “Variety is the spice of life,” as the old saying goes. The library is where your child can explore a room full of books on every subject without breaking your budget. Bringing home books from the library keeps your story time fresh.
  • Let everyone in the family join in the fun: You will be amazed that a seven-year-old and a three-year-old can enjoy the same book. Each will get something different out of the story, and they all will get the feeling of love that comes from reading together.
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