Reading picture books to your child is a great way to get them started on a lifetime love for reading. The bright pictures and easy to understand story has so many important benefits for growing minds:
- Engaging their imagination in a story
- Building their vocabulary
- Special time with a parent or grandparent where they feel your full attention as you enjoy the story together
All of these great benefits don't have to end just because your child is old enough to begin to read on their own. They still need those precious bonding moments, and continuing to read together can help you to continue to feel close and further your parent-child communication and bonding.
Gently transition your child from picture books to chapter books by reading aloud with them. Intersperse picture books and chapter books in your regular reading times. Even 8 or 9 year-olds still enjoy the ease of a picture book every now and then. And just because your child can read on a third grade level or higher, they may not be ready to read an entire chapter book on their own. It's important to keep them interested and excited about the stories in books, and not let it become a time of frustration or of unmet expectations.
Let them practice their reading skills on their early reader books. But also take advantage of middle grade books (for ages 8-12) and read them to your child, too. A chapter each night before bedtime is a great way to serialize a chapter book and savor the time you read together. Asking some questions as you read a longer chapter book over the course of a week or two can help your child to get so much more out of the story than just practicing their reading skills.
Middle grade books can be enjoyed by children as young as 5 or 6 if the book is read to them. And studies show that the longer stories with fewer pictures are a great way to stimulate young brains to grow as they use their imaginations while listening to a story.
At Book and Bear, we choose chapter books with this very transition in mind. Occasionally we choose a book that could be read alone by a strong reader, but mostly we choose books for their classic or award-winning writing that you can read aloud with your children. Often, our choices are books we've read to our own children over the years, too. Because our mission isn't just to provide adorable animal stuffing kits to treasure, but also to further that precious bond between parents and their kids through reading together. And that shouldn't stop just because your child is old enough to read on their own.
A few simple questions you can use with most books:
1. What was your favorite part of the chapter? What was so fun about that part?
2. Who is your favorite character? Why?
3. What did you think of the way your favorite character dealt with the problem they faced? What would you have done in that situation?
4. Did you like the way the story ended? If not, how would you change the ending?
Reading should be a fun time together and I hope these few tips will help you to keep on reading with your kids as they grow.
Many Blessings to you and your Family!
Kymberly MacAgy, Founder of Book and Bear, Former Teacher and Home School Mom