We all know about the summer “Beach Read”, but what better time is there than the frigid months of Wisconsin winter to curl up on the couch with a good book? Add your child into the equation and did you know that this cozy classic comes with secondhand benefits?

The research is out that shared reading with children from birth to beyond can expand vocabulary, improve reading comprehension and knowledge of story grammar, introduce spelling patterns and word origins, teach emotional intelligence, grow abstract thinking skills, and much more! And the benefits don’t stop once your child has become an independent reader. Cracking open a book with adolescents and teens allows for meaningful conversations about personal experiences and encourages predictive reasoning.

So, how do you do it?

  • Find reading materials that reflect your child’s interests, such as graphic novels, book-to-movie adaptations, written video game tutorials… the sky’s the limit! Or, even better, take a field trip to the library or local bookstore with your child so they can select a book that intrigues them.
  • Select books that are just above their current reading ability, as this can help expand vocabulary and provide you, the caregiver, with the opportunity to teach new words that are salient to your child’s interests.
  • Encourage inferencing skills by reading between the lines and venturing beyond what’s written on the page. React to what has occurred, make guesses about what will happen next, ask questions about the story, and invite your child to do the same.
  • Reminiscence together by making real-life connections to the story. Talking about past experiences in relation to characters and events in a book can teach empathy and perspective taking, boost story comprehension, and even strengthen family bonds.
  • Make it a ritual. Set aside a dedicated time (and space!) to read together every day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, you are creating a special interaction for the child to look forward to, and memories to last a lifetime.

Happy reading, bookworms!