How to Get Your Kids Reading More This Year

encourage children to read

We all want to instil a love of reading in our children, and what better way to start than with a fresh new year!

Reading offers a wealth of benefits for young children – it grows their vocabulary, builds their comprehension skills, expands their knowledge and understanding of the world, and gives them a better chance at succeeding in school. And it’s no secret – the more you read, the better you become at it.

Here are ten simple and achievable ways to get your children reading more books this year.

1. Create a reading nook at home – set up a special place completely dedicated to reading. It can be as simple as installing a few cosy pillows, a nightlight, and a few sturdy bookshelves.

2. Make time – Avoid overscheduling your child’s calendar with extra activities this year. You want to ensure they have enough time to sift through their bookshelves and regularly enjoy a long, leisurely read.

3. Make bedtime reading a part of your daily routine – Reading together is a powerful way to bond and encourage your child to adopt a positive attitude towards books and reading. Set aside some time each evening to enjoy a bedtime story and take turns reading to each other.

4. Visit the library or download a children’s books app – Make regular trips to the library or download a books app to give your kids a library of book titles at the swipe of their fingertips. Reading Eggs includes over 2000 online books for kids, many with read aloud options.

5. Make a family book tree – Sharing a joint family reading goal is a great way to encourage everyone at home to read. Cut out the shape of a tree from large construction paper and include a few branches. Throughout the year, each family member can add a leaf for every book read, until all the branches are full.

6. Explore new books genres together – Mix things up by delving into genres you haven’t tried before, like science-fiction, mystery, non-fiction, biographies, historical fiction, and poetry.

7. Stay open-minded about your book choices – Be flexible with what you allow your children to read. Comic books, joke books and magazines can be a great way to encourage reluctant readers, and offer their own unique benefits.

8. Watch more movies based on books – Studies show that movie releases spur many children to read the book version first. Reading a story before watching it on the big screen is a feat many children love to achieve, and it gives them a lot to talk about with their friends.

9. Talk about books at home and become a reading role model – Make books a part of your daily conversation. Talk about different characters, connections to real life, predictions you make, and what you want to read next. Let your kids see you reading and enjoying books in your spare time.

10. Leave a range of reading material around the house – Dr Seuss sums this up perfectly: “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks!”

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun. With over 2000 online books for kids, hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters, and exciting rewards, start your child’s reading journey with a free trial today!

5 Halloween Activities that Increase Reading Skills

Halloween reading for kids

The spooky season has a tendency of sparking the imagination, creativity, and sense of wonder in young children, which sets the perfect environment for refining important early reading and writing skills.

If you’re celebrating Halloween this year, here are five fun activities designed to increase your child’s literacy skills and help you get into the spirit of the festivities.

1. Find costume inspiration in books

If your child hasn’t decided which character they’d like to dress up as for Halloween, search for some inspiration from a variety of children’s books, rather than television shows and films. This will give even the most reluctant of readers some extra motivation to read and explore new titles and genres. Sit down together and help them write a simple list of ideal character traits and features, for example: funny voice, dresses in green, owns a pet, kind to people, wears glasses.

Once you have your list, visit the local library and choose a few different picture books you can read together. Ask the librarian for advice on where to look, or do a bit of research online beforehand. After you read each book, your child can make a tally of how many desired traits each new character exhibits.

2. Halloween word list

Creepy. Ghostly. Eerie. Enchanting. There are so many interesting and exciting words associated with Halloween! Holidays and traditions are a great opportunity to introduce new words into your child’s vocabulary. Take a large sheet of construction paper and write the heading ‘Halloween Words’. Divide the paper into three columns and label each column with a category, depending on your child’s age. You may choose simple categories such as foods, costumes, and characters, or more complex ones such as sounds, emotions, and adjectives (words that describe nouns).

Brainstorm a list of words for each category and add some new ones, too. Once you’ve completed your word list, help your child decorate it with drawings that represent each word (e.g. pumpkins, lanterns, witches, ghouls, cauldron, cobwebs, haunted).  Display it on a wall and use it as a guide for activity number four.

3. Trick-or-treating prep through role-play

One of the most exciting things about Halloween for young children is trick-or-treating. But trick-or-treating is more than just stocking up on candy (although that’s definitely a big part of it!). Children love dressing up, getting into character, doing funny voices and reciting their lines.

Children gain so much from imaginative play, and Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to spark your child’s imagination and build important literacy skills through role-play. Help your child refine their trick-or-treating routine and get into their character with a bit of preparation. Do they have a funny laugh? What does their voice sound like? What is something they would say? Invite your child to try out their routine on you, and don’t be afraid to improvise! You can even help them reenact stories if their characters are derived from books. This will help build their comprehension skills and understanding of narrative structure. Choose books that include new words that will help expand their vocabulary in a fun and motivating way. For example, if your child is dressing up as a teacher, include as many related words as possible (e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading).

 4. ‘When I think of Halloween’ writing exercise

Encourage your child to sit down and think about all of the things they associate with Halloween (use your word list from activity number two). Write a poem titled ‘When I think of Halloween’, made up of three stanzas that include six lines each. Write the beginning of each line for your child and have them fill in the end by inserting specific words.

Begin the first line for your child with ‘When I think of Halloween, I think of’ and have them write two special features of Halloween. Then begin the following lines with prompts such as ‘I see’, ‘I feel’, ‘I pretend’, ‘I wonder’, ‘I try’ and so on. Close the poem by repeating the first line.

For younger children, try writing an acrostic poem by putting the letters in ‘Halloween’ down the side of the page. Then go back to each letter and have your child write a word, phrase or sentence that begins with that letter to describe Halloween.

 5. Spooky story starters

This is a fun activity that the whole family can play together. Have one person start an original Halloween story by saying one line (e.g. “There was a thump in the middle of the night…”). Then go around in a circle so that each person contributes a sentence to the story. This activity can be done orally or by taking turns writing a sentence and folding the paper so that the next person can only see the last few words (this usually results in a nonsensical plot line that’s guaranteed for laughs!). As a great memento, you can also create a home-made book about Halloween and encourage your child to add their own illustrations too!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that children love. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters and exciting rewards, inspire your child’s love of reading with a free trial of Reading Eggs today.

Sharing Childhood Reading Memories with Your Children

introduce child to classic literature

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” — Garrison Keillor

SPECIAL OFFER: Reading Eggs is the online literacy program that makes reading fun for children aged 3-13. You can claim your special FREE trial offer of Reading Eggs here.

We all have those cherished books that made a big impression on us growing up. Many of us look back on them with the hopes to one day share them with our own children, and impart the same values we picked up from their pages.

Sharing your best-loved reading memories is a powerful way to bond with your child, inspire their love of literature from an early age, and create brand new reading memories together.

Here are some tips for sharing your personal literary treasures with your children.

Don’t expect the exact same response – No matter how dearly you hold onto your childhood classics, the truth is that times have changed, and so have children. Your child may simply not share the same passion for your highly prized children’s books, or it may not resonate with them in quite the same way.

If your child isn’t responding to your childhood classics, there’s no shame in not finishing the book. It’s possible that they are just not ready for the themes, language or context of the story. Nevertheless, a great read is still a great, especially if your treasured childhood books include classic literature, such as Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach, which brings us to our next point…

Choose quality literature (usually the classics) – Some of your childhood picks might include obscure titles that have stuck with you for a very specific reason. Maybe it was an old paperback you found with your parents at an old discount store, or a lesser known title that appealed to your particular tastes or unique sense of fun (e.g. gags, gore and grossness, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea!)

However, what makes a book a classic is its ability to tell a good story and present a deep understanding of human nature. Classic stories transmit timeless values, exhibit the beauty of language, and spark a sense of wonder and imagination. Books like The Secret Garden, Wind in the Willows and The Ugly Duckling promote universal values that have stood the test of time and continue to make compelling reads for young readers today. Choosing quality literature will increase the chances of your child sharing in the same joys and learnings as you did growing up. Read more tips on how to choose the perfect children’s books for your child.

Talk about the story as you go, and explain things if you need to – Stories from our childhood may use more unfamiliar words, language and themes than usual. Some of it may even be outdated. But this shouldn’t be a big problem. Explain the story as you go, and modify the language if you need to. Once you’re halfway through and your child is used to the style, it won’t be as necessary. If it’s a chapter book, read a chapter at a time, especially for children five and under – short sharp bursts will help them maintain interest. Read some helpful ways to make sure your child is reading for meaning.

Pausing every now and again to talk about the story is also a great way to check your child’s understanding and improve their comprehension skills. Talk to them about how much you enjoyed the book when you were a child, and relate it back to moments in your childhood. You can even show them the original versions if you have them. Don’t worry about going on tangents – the point of sharing these treasures with your child is to create positive reading experiences for them. By turning reading into a fun bonding experience, your child is likely to associate reading with positive memories – a helpful step in learning to read for pleasure.

If it didn’t scare you, it will probably be OK for your child too – A lot of parents worry that some of their best-loved children’s books are too dark. Think Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Lemony Snicket, and even some classic nursery rhymes like Rock-a-bye Baby and Jack and Jill.

Nobody knows your child as well as you do. If you think some of your classic children’s titles will keep them awake over the next few nights, definitely steer clear until they’re older. But generally children can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. Children’s author and teacher Kelly Barnhill summed it up brilliantly when she said, “[Kids] are darker and creepier and far more sinister than anything that you will find on display of a Barnes & Noble … In their imaginations, villains lurk under the stairs, assassins hide behind shower curtains, and tentacled monsters slurp along the basement floor.” If your classic stories appealed more to your sense of curiosity and adventure, rather than fear, chances are it will be the same for your child too.

Save some of the classics for grandparents – We know how much you’d like to share every single one of your childhood classics, but remember that grandparents can play a big role in building your child’s love of reading too. If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents in their life, encourage them to start their own reading traditions together. Have your child’s grandparents introduce special books that are only read when they’re together.

Read together, even if they can read independently – So your little one has already mastered the art of getting lost in a good book. But that doesn’t matter. If your child is already reading independently, it’s still great to set aside some special reading time together every now and then to bond and continue building positive reading experiences with them, even into adolescence if you’re one of the lucky ones. Do bedtime story nights for as long as your child welcomes it and after that, watch movies together based on your best-loved books, or enjoy audio books for long family road trips.

Some classics to get you started

  • The Velveteen Rabbit
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  • Cinderella
  • Hansel and Grethel
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Frog Prince
  • The Ancient Mariner
  • The Railway Children
  • The Snow Queen
  • The Stonecutter
  • The Travels of Tom Thumb
  • How the Leopard Got Its Spots
  • The Golden Goose

SPECIAL OFFER: Reading Eggs is the online literacy program that makes reading fun for children aged 3-13. The Reading Eggspress Library includes over 2000 children’s e-books, including all of the classic titles listed here. You can claim your special FREE trial offer of Reading Eggs here.

8 Everyday Ways to Build Your Child’s Listening Skills

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FREE TRIAL OFFER: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and experience the award-winning online reading program that children love.

Listening comprehension is more than simply hearing what is being said. It involves:

  • the ability to take in information
  • the ability to respond to instructions
  • the ability to share ideas, thoughts and opinions

Overall, listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to then be able to relate to them in some way. When your child hears a story, listening comprehension allows them to understand it, remember it, talk about it, and even retell it in their own  words.

Children who are good listeners often grow up to become good communicators. It’s an important skill to develop at an early age and, like a muscle, it needs regular exercise to grow stronger. Here are eight everyday ways you can help build your child’s listening comprehension skills at home:

1. Get their full attention. Encourage your child to look at you when they listen. Their full attention is important, and this gets them into the habit of giving their full attention to what’s being said.

2. Make reading an interactive activity. While reading aloud, stop before turning the page and ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Ask your child to explain their answer to see how well they’ve been listening. If they haven’t been listening, avoid criticising and instead, aim to get them into a fun habit of predicting what will happen next.

3. Play listening games. Games like Simon Says helps your child build listening comprehension skills in a fun and rewarding way. You can even make up your own listening games at home. For example, ask your child to find objects around the house by giving them two-part verbal instructions, then gradually progress to three-part, four-part, and so on.

4. Play “story chain”. This is a fun activity that the whole family can play together. Have one person start an original story by saying one line (e.g. “Once upon a time, there was a bear who lived in a cave”). Then go around in a circle so that each person contributes a sentence to the story.

5. Place an emphasis on common speech signals. Help your child listen out for important cues by placing an emphasis on common speech signals when you talk. These could include words like ‘now’, ‘next’ and ‘finally’.

6. Help your child to build their vocabulary. Children can get stuck on a word they don’t understand and end up missing the rest of what’s being said. Use books, games, flashcards, charts and online programs like Reading Eggs to build your child’s vocabulary, and don’t forget to read together regularly.

7. Be a good listener too. Avoid interrupting your child when they are talking, and show them that you’re listening to what they have to say. Give positive indicators like nodding, smiling, saying supporting words, and following up with questions or elaborating on what they have said to show interest.

8. Remember that most young children have short attention spans. Don’t expect your child to process information if it is lengthy, out of context, or not particularly interesting to them. Focus on building learning comprehension skills in a fun and supportive way, and remember to always be patient.

Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here. Reading Eggs is the fun and interactive reading program that teaches kids aged 3-13 vocabulary, comprehension, phonemic awareness and more. Children complete hundreds of listening games, activities and lessons designed to build essential early literacy skills in an entertaining and supportive way. 

5 Ways to Help Your Child Sound out Words

help child sound out words

Cracking the reading code takes practice and repetition. Decoding words, or sounding them out, is the ability to apply existing knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce printed words.

Many children develop the ability to decode words over time with regular reading practice. But children may also benefit from explicit instruction. Phonics instruction is an essential component of learning to read, and involves teaching your child how to decode words by correlating sounds with letters.  Here are five helpful ways you can help your child sound out words:

1. Explain the “how” of decoding words. When your child comes across a word they are unfamiliar with, show them how they can sound out the word themselves by breaking it up into smaller parts (e.g. /c/…/a/…/t/). Help your child identify the phonemes – the single units of sound that distinguish one word from another – in words (e.g. /b/…/ur/…/n/). There are 44 phonemes in the English language. Phonemes charts can be found online.

The English language also contains many irregular spelling rules which can make sounding out particular words confusing. For example the letter combination /ch/ in the words ‘chef’, ‘choir’ and ‘cheese’ have three different pronunciations. Take time to help your child learn the pronunciation of every new word along with its meaning, in order to help them identify ‘irregular’ words by sight.

2. Teach blending. Blending is a crucial step in becoming a fluent reader. Put simply, blending is the ability to smoothly combine individual sounds together in words. For example, an early reader may read out each individual sound in the word ‘fast’ like /f/…/a/…/s/…/t/, while smooth blending would be sounding the word out as /faasst/. Read some activities on how to teach your child blending here.

3. Write it down. When helping your child sound out words, consider the following:

  1. Say it slowly – stretch out words so that it’s easier to hear the sounds. Vowel sounds are usually the easiest to stretch out.
  2. Hold the sound – Starting with the first sound, hold it and stop.
  3. Find the letter – Help your child identify the letter whose sound matches the sound they have identified.
  4. Write it down – Write that letter down straight away, without waiting until the entire word has been sounded out. Help your child write a letter or letter combination for each sound as soon as the sound is identified.

Writing each sound as you go will help your child remember early sounds in a word by the time they figure our later sounds.

3. Play with rimes and onsets. A rime refers to the string of letters that follow an onset, which is the first phonological unit of any word. You can play with rimes and onsets by cutting out pieces of cards and writing a phoneme on each one, for example, b c f p r s m and h. Write the word at on a separate piece of paper. Ask your child to look at the rime at and decide if they have a phoneme that would correctly complete the word (e.g. b + at = bat).

4. Read aloud. When children hear words read aloud, they begin seeing how printed words are closely connected to spoken words. Reading aloud with your child helps them associate individual sounds with printed letters and letter combinations. Set aside regular reading time with your child and allow them to hear you read aloud slowly while watching your finger identify each sound. Programs like Reading Eggs include read aloud options with e-books for early readers, highlighting individual sounds as they are being read out.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that teaches children to read using phonics. Suitable for children ages 3-13, Reading Eggs includes hundreds of guided reading lessons and over 2000 e-books for children of all reading levels. Start your free two week trial today.