Read Your Way Through The Holidays: Build Elementary Language Skills with These 7 Tips

Turn your holiday season into a learning opportunity for your little ones with these seven fun ways to boost reading skills.

  • The ABC’s of Gratitude: Give the alphabet a happy twist by challenging your kids to list the people, places, and things they’re most grateful for until they have a word for every letter. Maybe A is for Aunt Alice, B is for butterflies, and C is for crayons. Then, they can share their list with friends and family during your holiday gathering.
  • -->Why It Matters: A gratitude list like this is a feast for the eyes and the mind. Research shows learning the alphabet is one of the best ways for young children to grow up to be strong readers. ABC lists help children master the names of each letter and the sounds that go with letters they see on the printed page. (Age Recommendation: Pre-K & Kindergarten)
  • Walk Down Memory Lane: What are your happiest holiday memories from childhood? Share those tidbits with your kids: briefly describe the scene, explain how you felt, and even share a photo of yourself at that age. Later, ask your child to re-tell the story to another relative or friend. You can chime in with extra details, but give your kid a chance to share as much as she remembers.
  • -->Why It Matters: Your storytelling is a fun way to stretch your child’s phonological memory muscles. Research shows that when kids can remember spoken information for a short period of time, they’re more likely to become strong readers later in life. (Age Recommendation: 1st Grade)
  • Stand Out in the Crowd: When you gather with family and friends for a holiday meal, put your child in charge of entertainment. In the days leading up to the event, help your child practice singing a song, reading a favorite story, or writing an original poem. Your guests will love the sweet contribution and your child will feel like a superstar!
  • -->Why It Matters: Kids need plenty of opportunities to read aloud to an audience of peers, parents, mentors, or even stuffed animals. The more they read aloud, the better their reading accuracy and fluency becomes. And reading for an appreciative audience boosts their self-confidence and motivates them to keep getting better. (Age Recommendation: 2nd Grade)
  • Do It Yourself: How often do you read for fun in front of your kids? Diving into stories you love can be the most fun part of raising a reader. Make sure your kids see you enjoying reading each day. Curl up with a good book, flip through a magazine, read the newspaper, pour over the mail. Excitedly share information you’ve learned and say out loud how much you love what you’re reading.
  • -->Why It Matters: Kids are total copycats. The more you read for fun, the more they will, too. The Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report™ found that kids are far more likely to love reading if they witness their parents reading for pleasure each day. (Age Recommendation: 2nd Grade)
  • Make It Interesting: Don’t let your kids slip into the reading gap. Around age eight, the amount of time kids spend reading for fun starts to decline; most kids say it’s because they don’t have anything interesting to read. Sound familiar? Then get bookin’! Rush to the library for books, magazines, and other materials that tap into your kids’ greatest passions—from sports to Star Wars, fashion to friendship.
  • -->Why It Matters: Kids who read for fun every day are called high frequency readers. They choose to read because they like what they’re reading and have access to print materials that match their passions. Naturally, most high frequency readers become really good at reading. In addition, studies show they’re more likely than other kids to feel smart, creative, and popular. (Age Recommendation: 3rd Grade)
  • Mail Call: Sending out holiday cards? Put your kids in charge of the family update, whether that means jotting down greetings inside each card or writing a letter to be printed or copied. Your kids can share family highlights from the past year in their own words (favorite experiences, an update on siblings, interesting family news). Don’t worry too much about spelling and grammar errors; those mistakes make it all the more charming for your family and friends to read.
  • -->Why It Matters: Writing about events that had emotional significance (from the excitement of a special family outing to grief over a lost pet) requires kids to really think about the best way to communicate those feelings in writing. Those writing skills enhance reading skills as kids begin to notice how characters’ emotions are described in the stories they read. (Age Recommendation: Grade 4 & Up)
  • Hi, Hyperbole: Kids are experts at embellishing the truth. Time to turn the tables: encourage the kids in your life to be on high-alert for hyperbole—a figure of speech that uses exaggerated statements. Suddenly they’ll hear and read it everywhere. Each evening, share fun examples of big exaggerations you heard or read during the day and ask your child to do the same.
  • -->Why It Matters: As kids develop reading comprehension skills, it’s crucial to understand the difference between what’s real or not, what’s exaggerated and what’s accurate. Research shows the more kids are able to recognize elements like hyperbole or personification, the more they comprehend a story and boost their reading skills. (Age Recommendation: Grade 4 & Up)

Tell Us: How are you developing reading and language skills in your kids this holiday season?

Photo Credit: Monterey Public Library

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