Seven Strategies to Improve the Reading Process with your Child.

reading is funBefore the reading process begins, ask yourself the question, ‘Are you in the mood to sit down and read with your child right now?’

This is a simple enough question but a very important one. If your answer is NO, than it’s not the right time for you to be reading with your child. Strategies to improve the reading process between you and your child requires you to make reading with your child a priority in your day. As a parent you are primarily the one who initiates this interaction. It should be a positive and enjoyable experience for all concerned. If you are feeling tired, angry, cranky or completely preoccupied, it’s not the right time to be trying to engage with your child. Children can sense when you’re not completely present with them. Remember too, you need to consider a suitable time for your child, taking into account their moods and willingness.

(1) Find a quiet spot to read with little to no distractions.

It’s a challenge to keep a child’s attention for even a short span of time so if you’re sitting in a room with the TV blaring you’re facing an uphill battle from the outset. If it’s a nice day, go outside and read in the garden. Wherever you are, make sure everyone is comfortable and distractions are kept to a minimum. If your child gets distracted easily and they are old enough to hold the book, let them hold the book. This brings their focus back to the book.

(2) Remember reading should always be FUN!

Children are excited when they are having fun and often they don’t want to stop whatever they are doing because it’s so much fun. Reading can be fun too. I urge you to get creative and make the process fun. You could experiment with different voices. If your child is old enough and is familiar with the story, you could act it out assuming the book lends itself to being acted out, like the picture book, We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Get your imagination fired up and working again.

(3) Quality not Quantity!

The time spent reading together should be quality time. Take cues from your child. If your child is losing interest and you haven’t finished the book, it’s best to stop completely or finish looking at the pictures and resume reading together at a different time. Always stop reading while the process is still enjoyable for all parties.

On the other hand, if your child wants to read book after book, it’s still important to stop while the going is good rather than continuing on and having the fun and joy of the process wane.

(4) Regular Reading.

Children thrive on routine. If you make reading a part of their day, they will accept it as so. The regularity also teaches them what’s important. You eat, drink, sleep, shower and clean your teeth daily. A child sees these things as important. If you read too, that will be important as well.

In many families, bedtime seems to be the routine time for reading stories. It’s a lovely way to end the day sharing a book with your child but from my personal experience, it’s not always the best part of the day to be reading together for obvious reasons.

(5) Repetition and Variation.

Your child probably has his or her own favourite books that they love to read. Reading these books over and over again, not only embeds the stories in your child’s mind but begins the process of word recognition and a familiarisation with language. Your child may even get curious about question marks, exclamation marks and punctuation in general.

A variation in books is also important. It obviously exposes your child to different stories and styles of language but also helps expand their vocabulary.

If your child is old enough, ask them what they would like to read. Maybe you have borrowed some books from the library. Asking them to choose a book makes them feel important and a part of the decision making process which is empowering.

(6) Breathe Deeply and be Patient.

This applies particularly if your child has started school and is reading more to you. My six year old daughter likes to read to me. If she doesn’t know a word I encourage her to sound out the word phonetically and to look at the pictures to see if they can help her. If after a little while she still doesn’t know the word, I tell her. She then proceeds to read the entire page over and over again until she can read it perfectly. Sometimes I am sitting there rolling my eyes wondering if we’ll ever finish the book while her bedtime gets later and later. I do find myself breathing deeply. I have to remind myself, she’s only six years old and that’s she’s empowering herself through repetition. Be patient with your child and the process, the rewards are great.

(7) Praise, Praise and Praise!

No matter what age or stage your child’s at on their way to learning how to read, make sure you praise their efforts. Children love to know they are progressing and doing well and it’s a good confidence booster. Learning to read can be challenging. It’s easy for some and harder for others. It was difficult for me. Regularity is the key. Do not criticise your child if they are reading to you and they are getting words you think they ought to know, wrong. Children can be very critical of themselves, especially if they lack confidence or have low self-esteem. It’s not beneficial in any way for a parent to be critical of their child. It’s also non-beneficial to be comparing one child against another. Every child is different. I strongly suggest if you’re concerned about your child’s reading ability that you seek advice from their teacher.

I hope this has been helpful to you and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Good Luck and Best Wishes,





Seven Strategies to Improve the Reading Process with your Child. — 18 Comments

  1. Michelle – You immediately took me back to nighttime reading with my daughter. Her favorite story she loved was ‘The Little Mouse, the bright red Strawberry and Big Hungry Bear’ … I made mention of it to her tonight (now 13 years old) and she was laughing imitating my voice of the dramatic narrator as I read. Thanks for the memory!

  2. Loved it. I need encouragement inthis department. I always managed to choose times to read when I needed a nap! Not good. Now focused on my bettr time and then couple that with their ‘good time’. Thanks.

    • Thanks Rebecca. We all need encouragement and finding the right time to sit down and read with our children is not always easy but stick with it.

  3. Thanks, brings back fond memories of getting under the covers with a good book, and the kids. If you are a busy parent with lots of hats to fill, you must be willing to let go and have some reading fun!

  4. The first book I remember my mother reading to me was “The Little Prince”. I’m sure she read me many more before that one, but it is the one I remember most vividly. I have been an avid reader ever since, and reading is the skill for which I am the most grateful in life! Your strategies are simple and effective, and make it easy for any parent to get started!

  5. There is something about the color and the type face and the pictures that softened my heart as I read this post. You laid out the points clearly and I can see the service you are performing for many, many parents. Yea for reading! It was and still is the best for me. I was read to by my older sister. she and I seemed to survive a home with almost no books whatsoever to turn into complete bibliophials (sp?) — book lovers. Thanks for helping others to help the children. We are a village.

    • Thank you, Sandra. It’s wonderful your older sister read to you and that you became a book lover having not grown up with many books. I am passionate about children learning to read and being surrounded with books and I am willing to help wherever I can.

  6. I love the work that you do Michelle! This is so important. Because books were so important to my parents, they are a huge part of my life, and also my children’s lives.
    Thank you for your clarity and great points.
    This should be sent out to schools with the newsletter!
    Much Love,
    Maria xx

    • Thank you Maria for your lovely feedback. I am glad books are a part of your children’s lives. I will investigate whether this type of information I am providing would be welcomed in school newsletters. Thanks for thinking of me.

  7. Michelle I think the bit about timing is so important, we tend to get caught up in “ought to” rather than stay relaxed with this as with other things. I really “ought to” read to the children now…I think your post is excellent

    • Thanks, Karen. I agree with you. ‘Ought to’ does not necessarily encompass “Want to” and the more relaxed we are, the better.

  8. Such an important message for parents with kids! I have always been an avid reader, and I’m sure it has a lot to do with my parents reading to me a lot when I was a kid. I hope to do the same with my child. 🙂

    • Christine, thank you for your positive feedback, I really appreciate it. The gift of reading cannot be underestimated. You are giving your child a great gift just as your parents gave you.

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