Parenting: cultivate a new reading habit with Eric

After reading this article, I decided to cultivate a new reading habit with Eric: read with Eric for about 15-minutes before bedtime every night.

Besides all the benefits of reading, this new habit is also part of the plan of preparing Eric for a new sibling.  We’ll make this time slot as a special “mommy and Eric reading time.” It is especially for Eric.  Even after I give birth to my girl, I’ll still keep this habit with Eric.

I know I have the weakness of short-lived enthusiasm for certain things, so in order to monitor my persistence on this habit, I would like to take the following action:-

  • Borrow 5-6 books for Eric every two weeks from the local library.
  • List out the book titles in this blog, and monitor our reading progress in my daily checklist.
  • Read one book every night.  Within a week finish reading 5-6 books.
  • In the second week, repeat the reading in the first week.

In the article, the author gives some tips of how to read with your kids, which I think are helpful.

  • Point to some of the pictures on the page and see if your child can describe what the illustrations show. Is the main character revealed on the first page? Can you tell where the story takes place? Is it daytime or nighttime as the story begins? Do you think it will be the same at the end of the story? (And no peeking ahead is allowed!)
  • Have your child try to reason how a picture on the page relates to the story. For example, you could ask, “Why does the candle droop?” Could it be that it is because it has been burning for a long time?
  • Identify specific words used in the story as a teachable moment. Are some words written in a different way from the rest of the words? Are some bigger? Smaller? In a different color? Ask your child to guess why. Have your child say the special words in the story in the way he thinks the author intended for them to be read. Talk about how the words could be said differently to express a different emotion.

There are a lot of helpful tips in this article Fun ways to read with your child as well, although the ways introduced in this article are more for bigger kids.

In this wonderful article, Prof. Susan B. gives below excellent ideas about reading with kids of different ages:-

Pique your child’s interest by asking questions such as, “Look at the picture,” and “What’s that?” Respond to her words or babblings by giving her feedback, such as “Yes, you’re right. It’s a bunny.” More often than not, she’ll repeat — or try to repeat — your words. And the best follow-up is to extend her words by saying “That’s right, it’s a bunny, and look at his cute little cotton tail.” In these simple ways you are helping your child identify new words and understand their meanings. Reading these books again and again only reinforces what she is learning.

Of course, as children get a bit older, they’ll want to hear books of greater depth and variety. Toddlers just crave books with silly rhymes, rhythms, and patterns because they love to join in as you read. Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop is a natural choice for encouraging rhyme and rhythmic language. Especially on the first go-round, you might want to read the whole book without stopping to talk about the pictures so that your child hears the rhyme without interruption. The reading itself will help her learn how words relate to other words. Then after reading these books several times, you’ll find that your child will join in with the rhyme.

Predictable or pattern-based books encourage your child to predict what will come next in the story. These books are highly engaging and fun to read. Your child will want to actively participate and predict the story as you read books like Bill Martin and Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? Instead of reading straight through, try stopping each time before turning the page. Ask your child, “What do you think you will see?” Guessing is a wonderful way to encourage her to think about words and other animal names that might be in the story. Then turn the page, and have a good laugh together as you predict along with the story.

When you read storybooks, or nonfiction books to your toddler or preschooler, you might want to start by showing her the cover and pointing to some of the pictures. Encourage her to predict what the story might be about. You might even emphasize some interesting new words that she’s likely to encounter as you read the story. “This book is about Curious George. ‘Curious’ means being interested in something. What have you been curious about recently?” You’ll also want to talk about what it means to be an “author” of a book and an “illustrator,” so that if your child really loves this book she’ll just delight in others by the same author and illustrator.

It’s a good idea to read a couple of pages, and stop at various points to check your child’s understanding of the story. You might focus on the pictures and how they relate to the story, or bring some of your child’s previous experiences to the story events in a way that builds upon their meaning, such as, “What happened when you were curious the other day?” All along, you’ll want to ask, “What do you think will happen next?” By predicting the next events, your child will stay engaged with the story.

After finishing the story, think of saying, “What did you like most about the story? Tell me your favorite part.” Even though it might be close to bedtime, helping your child retell some of the story not only extends her language skills, but makes these stories her own. It also helps her practice the most basic techniques of literature, “the beginning, middle, and end.” This will encourage her to begin to distill the story down to its essence. And as many of you know, these stories and the important lessons they teach will often become a rich and valuable resource for her to draw upon for the rest of her life.


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