How to Build a Daily Reading Routine at Home: Tips for Parents That Kids Will Love
Reading is a vital skill every child should be exposed to at an early age to foster your child's development and build a solid foundation of reading. Reading helps children expand their language skills, cognitive development, and vocabulary. Reading enhances their comprehension and critical thinking abilities and provides a great way to develop empathy and imagination and better understand the real world around them. Additionally, children who read regularly perform better academically than those who do not.
As a parent, one of the best ways to help your child build their reading skills is by establishing a reading routine at home. The good news is that you don't have to spend a long time reading with your child each day or even sit down and read an entire book. Reading for just 20 minutes daily can significantly impact a child's academic and personal development. It is a simple yet effective way to support a child's growth and reading success.
Should I Read Aloud to My Child, Or Should They Read to Me?
For younger children who cannot read yet, reading aloud to them is very beneficial to developing literacy skills. They learn a lot from listening. Take the time to point out any letters or sight words they may be learning and stop and ask questions as you go to monitor their comprehension and understanding. The following are some questions you can ask your child to engage your young reader:
Before (helps children build upon prior knowledge and make connections to the meaning of the text):
What made you choose this book?
What makes you think it will be interesting?
Do you think this story will be fiction or non-fiction?
What's your prediction? (What do you think the book will be about? Does the title help you make a good guess?)
During (helps promote active engagement with the reading) :
What do you think will happen next?
What is the setting of the story?
Who are the main characters in the story so far?
Which character do you relate to most?
What is the problem or conflict in the story?
How do the characters try to solve the problem?
Did I understand that? Should I reread that part?
After (a great way to check for their understanding/comprehension of the text and helps to make meaning of the new knowledge):
What is the resolution of the story?
What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
What was the main idea of the story?
What was the author's purpose for writing this text?
Can you retell the story or the main idea/key details in your own words?
What questions do you have about the story?
Did you learn something new?
What does this story remind you of?
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
You can allow older children to read to you, or it can be fun to "popcorn read." Popcorn reading is "popping" back and forth from one reader to another. For example, your child reads a paragraph, and then you do a section. Or you do a chapter, and then they do a chapter. Or they do a page, and then you do a page.
Take the time to stop and ask questions like the ones above. Discuss the material, and help them make real-life connections, inferences, predictions, and more as you read! Below is a picture of good things readers do. These are great ways to develop their reading skills and monitor your child's reading as they go!
Below are some tips and easy steps you can take to help you build a reading routine for young kids at home.
1. Make Reading a Part of Your Child's Bedtime Routine
Making reading a daily activity helps your child develop a reading habit and builds their literacy skills. It doesn't necessarily have to be at bedtime but set a time each day when your child can read and make it a part of their daily routine and practice. Choose a quiet time that best suits your family/child's schedule. Consistency is vital, so decide when your family can stick to the plan as much as possible.
I recommend a bedtime reading routine because reading encourages relaxation for kids. Reading can help children wind down before bed, especially if the story is soothing and gentle (i.e., nursery rhymes or Dr. Seuss). Reading before bed can help promote better sleep quality and reduce anxiety or stress for young children. Research shows that reading promotes better sleep than screens because the light emitted by screens can disrupt the body's production of melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep). Therefore, reading before bed reduces a child's screen time right before sleeping on things like I-pads, televisions, and video games. Reading a physical book with a bedside lamp or other low-light source can help promote better sleep. Besides, kids love reading with a special light like the one pictured below.
You can purchase the light here: https://amzn.to/3TzYBR4 Affiliate links provided in this email for your convenience
2. Create a Special Reading Space
Designate a comfortable and quiet reading space for your child in your home. For example, a corner of their bedroom, a cozy reading nook in the living room, or any other place in your home can work as long as it's conducive to reading. That includes a quiet, comfortable, inviting space.
Fill the space with many children's books, a comfortable chair or soft pillows to lounge on, unique lights, a reading lamp, stuffed animals to read to, and other fun accessories to help your child get excited about reading! Some people even set up a tent or allow their children to build a unique fort! A fort or special spot promotes a particular place for reading time where they can focus on their reading materials. You can even put on light music for them when they read.
All in all, spending time with independent reading will help them become better readers!
Below is a reel showing the reading room I created for my daughter. We had a strange closet/room off of her bathroom, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to make it a storage room or into a special reading nook. But kids love this room! I knew it needed to be more than just a place where I stored totes and tons of random junk and possessions.
Since the reel of my daughter in her reading room (shown above), I have added a tent to the space. She loves to go in there to hang out. It's the perfect place to plop a basket of books and let her riffle through the pages!
Here is the tent that she has! The lights (included) make it extra special. Click here to purchase:https://amzn.to/42B2ucM
She also loves her reading pillow. It's super nice to get cozy and spend time with her books! You can purchase one like hers here: https://amzn.to/3TGAosn
No worries if you don't have a large room to dedicate to reading as we did! Many other fun ways exist to create a special reading spot without dedicating a huge space. Some of the following items (linked below) can be a great way to create a special space and make reading seem fun and exciting!
3. Let Your Child Choose Their Own Books
“Providing students with the opportunity to choose their own books to read empowers and encourages them. It strengthens their self-confidence, rewards their interests, and promotes a positive attitude toward reading by valuing the reader and giving him or her a level of control. Readers without power to make their own choices are unmotivated.” ― Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
Allow your child to choose the books they want to read. Yes, that means letting them indulge in whatever interests them, even if that means graphic novels, magazines, comic books, or their favorite picture book. Their idea of a good book may differ from yours, but allow them to choose.
If you want to ensure they read educational books or certain genres, tell them they must read a non-fiction book for every comic. Or whatever your intentions are.
Also, if they pick the same picture books repeatedly, that's okay! Even though it might drive you crazy as a parent, early readers benefit from the repetition because it helps build vocabulary and comprehension, boosts confidence, promotes predictive skills (an essential skill that good readers use), and promotes a love of reading.
Additionally, I always recommend listening to audiobooks to parents because it allows you to switch it up and offer a variety to children! What better way to get their reading exposure for the day while out and about and on the go?! Audiobooks are a great way to model good reading skills like fluency (speed), prosody (rythym), and expression.
You can also take your child to the library or bookstore to expand their book collection. Children are more motivated to read the books that they choose. If they struggle with finding a book, guide them by recommending age-appropriate ones that match your child's interests.
The Scholastic website recommends great ideas for age-appropriate books and has some good choices for engaging books for children. To view, click here: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/books-and-reading-guides/recommended-childrens-books-by-age.html
Or the Kids Book Series website allows you to put in your child's grade and current reading level to generate suggestions. To View, click here: https://www.kidsbookseries.com/search
Are you unsure what level of books you should have books you should be having your child read at home? Use the 5-finger rule trick (shown below) to ensure you find just the right books. You want the books your child reads to be challenging enough to work through hard words and learn new things. However, too-hard books can be discouraging and lead to conflict between you and your child at home as frustration rises. The last thing you want to do is leave your child with a bad taste in their mouth around reading. They should be reading at their independent reading level at home to build confidence, word awareness, and fluency.
4. Carve Out Time To Read Together
Reading with your child is a great way to encourage them to read and model the importance of reading. Carving out a regular time to spend quality time reading with your child in your busy day will mean a lot to them! Take turns reading a book, and change the sound of your voice for different characters to make it more fun and exciting. Add props or sounds to the story to bring out the joy of reading. The more fun you have, the more your child will build positive memories and a lifelong love of reading. What better way to spend valuable time together? Help them with any difficult words. Be patient and focus on the positives rather than what they don't know. Reading together can also help you bond with your child and create special memories.
If you are busy, any family members in the house will do! Older children, siblings, or any more experienced reader can help model good reading habits, which helps younger children learn good prosody (rythm), expression, and fluency (speed) when read aloud to.
When the family is available, have story time together! Even if it's just one day a week that the family all sits down to share their favorite stories can make a significant impact! Making reading a family affair can make young readers more motivated and excited about reading.
5. Pick Chapter Books To Read Together
Reading a chapter book with your child or a series like Harry Potter can be fun to get them excited about reading and get their daily exposure! It can be fun to choose chapter books with movies made after them. Then you can watch the film together and compare and contrast the two. It's a great incentive to finish the book!
6. Take Your Child To The Local Library
Check with your local library because many libraries have story hours or fun events available for children. I started taking my daughter to the library each week, and it's one of the things I look forward to in our weekly routine! They do a story every Friday for kids, and then one day a month, they do a particular theme on Saturday where the children listen to stories and do art projects. The last one we attended was unicorn themed, which my daughter loved. We heard a few stories, did coloring activities, made unicorn headbands, and had a good time! Then we take some time to walk around and look at lots of books together. It's a great way to expose her to new literature that we don't have in our home library, read new things, and build excitement around reading.
Lastly, the library will allow you to expand your child's reading experience across all genres. As Donalyn Miller says, "Strong readers have lots of reading experiences. You need to be a good all-around reader. Encouraging students to read widely—sampling books from every genre—improves their reading ability by expanding their reading experiences. If you spend every day working on your jump shot, you’ll improve your jump shot. To be a strong all-around player, you must practice passing, guarding, and dribbling, too. To be a strong reader, you must practice reading poetry, fiction, nonfiction, wordless books, graphic novels, blog posts—a little bit of everything."
7. Set goals and Incentives
Set achievable goals for your child, such as reading several books each week or month. Or, as award-winning teacher Donalyn Miller does in her classroom, challenge your child to read 40 books over the span of a year. Encourage them to explore several genres or formats (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc.) The emphasis is less on the number of books they read but more on developing a love of reading and improving reading skills. Students in Miller's program are encouraged to read widely and deeply and choose books that challenge and engage them. They keep a log of the books they read and reflect on their reading experiences with brief summaries and reviews of the books they read, as well as any other notes or reflections.
To encourage your child to meet their reading goals, offer incentives such as a trip to the bookstore to buy a new book, an outing, or a special treat (my daughter will do anything for ice cream!). Setting goals and incentives can motivate your child to read more and develop their reading skills.
One way I set the reading intention and goal in my house is to include reading in our daily morning and evening routines. My daughter is only two, but I use a routine chart like the one below to ensure that reading gets done each morning and night, along with brushing her teeth and getting dressed. A chart helps children to develop a love of reading in children. Reading books regularly helps to expand children's vocabularies, increase their attention spans, and improve their language skills. This can ultimately benefit them in their academic performance and success later in life.
Besides, instilling a routine chart is beneficial in so many other ways! A chart can help instill a sense of responsibility and discipline in children, building their confidence. When children have to complete tasks as part of their nightly routine, they learn to manage their time effectively and develop a sense of accomplishment when they complete their tasks. Your child will also be exposed to the words on the chart repeatedly, which will help their letter and word recognition skills. Lastly, as mentioned above, reading can also have a calming effect on children, especially when incorporated into a bedtime routine. It can help them wind down after a busy day and prepare for a restful night's sleep.
If you want to download a free nightly routine chart to implement with your child at home, click the blue button below!
8. Find a Book Club
Finding a book club can be fun for children to be excited about reading and help build a weekly routine. I know many fellow reading tutors who will do book clubs, or you can check with your local library. Here in California, they do The First Partner's Summer Book Club (for children up to 9th grade) at local libraries throughout the state. It's a 9-week initiative to promote children's literacy over the summer, keep them reading, and prevent summer slide (a decline in reading skills when school takes time off). https://www.gov.ca.gov/cakidsread/
Overall the most crucial thing is to make your routine light and fun so your child looks forward to reading each day so that they can reap all the benefits of reading! By making reading a regular activity, creating a comfortable reading space, letting your child choose their books, reading together, and setting goals and incentives, you can help your child develop a lifelong love for reading. Play games in the car, read road signs, and enjoy your family time together! Remember, just 20 mins a day can help your child tremendously!
About the Author
Janay Neufeld is an online reading specialist and confidence coach for kids. Her unique approach can help children worldwide increase their confidence and reading skills with positive mindset training, helping them reach their full potential!
She has her multiple-subject teaching credential, almost a decade of experience helping children learn to read, and a Master of the Arts in Education. She is also certified as a life coach for kids through Adventures in Wisdom.
To get the tutoring process started today, click the button below to register for a FREE Reading Assessment!