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Bedtime story

5 Tips to Make Reading with Your Child Fun and Relaxing

I am a mother of 2 young girls and started to share ideas around personalized learning games in my first blog post.

Teachers recommend children read a few minutes every day. It’s easy to think: “Oh yes, one more thing I need to do! No, thank you!”, but building reading into your child’s routine can be easier (and more fun!) than you might think.

As adults, it can be easy to forget that learning how to read is hard. It takes lots of repetition and perseverance. But it is something we use every day.

Teaching our kids how to read is one of the most important gifts we can give them.

Reading can be fun and relaxing

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Summer story reading outside

1. The basics: Settling in with a book

  • Let your child pick the book.
  • Sit down, relax, and get a hug before you begin.
  • Be silly! Use fun voices. This inspires kids to want to be able to read too so they can join in.
  • Ask your child questions as you go along: Where’s [character] on this page? What are they doing? How do you think they feel? What do you think will happen next? What did you like the most/the least about the book?

2. You reading to your child: The Monster Letter Hunt

  • After reading, play the Monster Letter Hunt to build letter awareness. Make glasses with your hands around your eyes and say: “I’m the letter monster! With my monster eyes, I can see an “A”. Can you see it too?”
  • Encourage your child to look for letters they know (start with the letters of their name, then the most common letters: E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S, L, C).
  • Point out the difference between ‘big letters’ and ‘small letters’.
  • When your child has got the idea, they can play the monster too. You could switch it up by using a character from the book instead of a monster.

3. Reading together: The Monster Word Hunt

  • Similar to above, but expanded to whole words. Encourage your child to look for and read the words they know as you go along. If the child’s name appears in the book, start the Monster Word Hunt with their name.

4. Starting to read for themselves: Reading whole pages

  • Help your child choose a suitable book.
  • The adult reads the even pages; the child reads the uneven pages. This allows your child to have a small mental break from the effort of reading to keep things nice and light.

5. Independent reading: Taking turns with full books

  • Your child and you each choose a book. You read the first book; the child reads the second. Break up the reading by asking questions along the way so your child has time to process what they are reading.

What are some good first books for children to start reading?

My daughter’s Montessori teacher recommended the Bob Books series. Unfortunately, my older daughter, Amy, had no interest in these books. I wondered how I could create a spark in her so that she wanted, or even better loved, to read by herself?”

I discussed it with my friends, and we concluded: “if we want them to read books, we need to read books ourselves.” Children reproduce what they see at home. While this is true, I barely have the time to read paper books. Like lots of people, I read articles on my phone and listen to audibles when the kids are asleep.

Then, I had an idea: Would Amy enjoy an easy-to-read book all about her and the things she likes? I didn’t find any solutions online, so I built a 12-page prototype using simple words that featured Amy in the story. I focused on Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CVC) words like hat and cat.

She loved it.

Feeling inspired I created additional prototypes — focusing on the text and the illustration — and gave them to other children. They all loved it. I will always remember Amy’s friend Zaria’s smile when she recognized her name in the book I had created for her.

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Personalized prototype book created for Zaria who loves pink

Zaria’s mum explained: “Having a book all about herself and her sister ignited Zaria’s eagerness to read. She has read this book more time than I can count. She loves that it is personalized”. Just a month later, at 4 and a half years old, Zaria finished reading her first book by herself.

A tip from Amy’s teacher, Miss Angela, that worked for both my daughter and Zaria was “When (not if) you finish reading the book entirely by yourself, you will be able to color it in.” If your child does not enjoy coloring in, they can add stickers instead.

If you are stressed or don’t feel like it — which is normal, especially in the current circumstances — don’t force yourself, you will find the time or the motivation another day. While reading early can have a positive impact on our children’s future, it’s important that the reading experience itself is positive.

If you are interested in trying this new approach, feel free to subscribe to my mailing list using this webpage. 

Which easy-to-read books do your children enjoy? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

About the author: I am a mother of two girls. I had dyslexia and struggled to learn how to read. My older daughter was considered a “slow learner” at the age of three, so I transferred her to a Montessori school and started to gather ideas and tools to help her at home. A year later, my daughter read her first 12-page easy-to-read — or CVC (Consonant Vowel Consonant) — book before turning four and a half years old. I am using this experience to launch MyLibook, an inspiring, personalized, easy-to-read book series.

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