The holiday season is known to cause a pronounced dip – or ‘slide’ – in children’s reading skills. With an abundance of distractions and a shake-up of routine, getting your child to read over the festive season can be a great challenge as a parent.
But with a bit of thought and preparation, the holidays can actually be the perfect time to enjoy fun and meaningful family activities based around books and reading. Here are some great holiday ideas to keep the magic of reading alive at home.
1. Pair books with day trips – The night before you visit a museum, landmark, or special exhibition, find books and websites to read with your child to help plan your trip together.
2. Create a holiday reading list – Take a trip to the library and put together a list of books your child would like to read during the holidays. Display the list somewhere you’ll see every day, like on the refrigerator, and reward your child with something small each time they check off a new title.
3. Make ‘DEAR’ time fun time – DEAR stands for ‘Drop Everything and Read’, where everybody in the house must drop what they’re doing and read a book. Make it spontaneous and exciting, similar to announcing a special treat!
4. Read to relatives – Encourage your child to show off their new reading skills to grandparents or relatives by reading them a story. Most children love being the focus of attention, and grandparents are usually more than happy to encourage their progress.
5. Follow a recipe – Cooking together is so much fun over the holidays and provides a great opportunity for your child to read out the ingredients and steps. Afterwards, help them write a menu for guests and family members, using as many descriptive words as they can.
6. Create a family book tree – Cut out the shape of a tree from a large sheet of construction paper and invite the whole family to decorate it, adding the words ‘My Family Book Tree’. Hang up your tree near your usual reading area, and as each person reads a book they can write down the title and add a new leaf.
7. Re-enact stories and perform them for relatives – Choose a well-loved story with fun and interesting characters and re-enact it from beginning to end. Prepare some props and perform your story as a family for relatives when they come to visit. Here are some great tips for raising a reader through dramatic play.
8. Start a reading circle with some friends – Host a weekly reading circle at your house and invite your child’s friends and family to join in. They can take turns choosing which books to read together each week.
9. Play fun literacy games on long car trips – If you’re planning a long road trip during the holidays, games like ‘I Spy’ and simple category games can be great for building essential literacy skills. Don’t forget to also stock up on good books for the road!
10. Mix things up with joke books and comic books – Encouraging your child to read a variety of texts is great for setting them up to become lifelong readers. Choose books you know they’ll love and don’t be afraid to experiment with joke books, riddles and comic books, which all offer their own unique benefits to young readers.
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