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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Budnik

9 Worst Mistakes Parents Can Make When Reading With Children

children's books

children are made readers in the laps of their parents. -Emilie Buchwald

If you know me well, you know that I have a love of reading with children, teaching children to read, and incorporating children's books into skills children need to improve on at home and at school. There has been many a day that I have teared up at the end of a good children's book because they can be so moving and teach such valuable lessons.

We usually do our reading together before bed. We read, for the most part, with our two kiddos individually. This helps get in their reading time and doubles as precious one on one time with them. It is probably our favorite part of the day. I try to make the most out of that short period of time by making it fun and full of learning.

I feel truly blessed that God gifted me with the "teacher gene" because it just comes naturally to me, unlike many other things like fashion, craftiness, or home design LOL! All parents naturally want to do what is best for their child, but just don't know what to do. For some it's like showing up to play baseball without a glove and bat. You just don't have the right tools to make the reading soar. Below are 9 of the worst mistakes you can make as a parent reading with your kiddo.

child reading

Skipping the title, author's name, illustrator's name, and cover illustrations/pictures - It is important to get your child's mind ready to read. Whether that is reading for entertainment, information, or to be persuaded. The title sets the stage for the rest of the book and introduces the main idea of the story/text. Also, talking about the author and illustrator connects reading to writing. They too will one day be little authors and illustrators of so many sweet stories and understanding who does what will help them in that process. The front cover of a book is always filled with a great illustration or photograph. Discuss what they see and have them predict (or make a guess) what they think the book will be about and WHY they think that. This book talk will engage them before the book has even started.

Ignoring background knowledge about the book's topic - Talking about what they already know about the book topic will help them to make connections to the text and will deepen comprehension. Whether it reminds them of feeling they have had, a place they have been to, something they have seen in a movie, or another book they have read, it will make the book more personal. Children have an easier time recalling information and drawing conclusions when those connections have been made.

Skimming over character feelings/actions - When reading a fiction story, one of the best learning tools for kiddos is to learn how to analyze a character's feelings and actions by looking at their facial expressions and body language in the illustrations. Asking questions while you read about how the character is feeling or how they are acting and WHY helps them to relate to that character and makes the character more memorable. When they put themselves into the story they can really relate how the character feels/acts to their own life.

Not asking questions - This is probably the most important thing you can do when reading with your child, whether you are reading to them or they are reading to you. You can use questioning before, during, and after reading to monitor comprehension and also to show what it sounds like when a good reader is reading. Good readers stop to ask themselves questions throughout the book about things that make them wonder or about things that they need more clarity on. This is skill that will help them throughout their life reading.

I like to start with the 5 Ws and the H (who, what, when, where, why, and how).

Using a monotone voice - Kids love to listen to stories! The best ones to listen to are the ones where the narrator (you LOL) gets into character and really puts on a show by raising and lowering their voice and making it fun to listen to.

Dismissing the pictures importance - Many pages in children's books are mostly pictures and a few words. The pictures can tell a story on its own. Discuss with them who/what they see in the picture and what they are doing. You can even use this point in the reading to make connections to the pictures or ask questions about why certain things are happening in the picture. This helps them to be able to "read the pictures", which is one of the first ways children read books independently. And NEVER skip over a page that has no words. Those are the best and can generate so much conversation!!!

Skipping pages in the book - We have all been there. Little Johnny wants a bedtime story and you open up the book and it is the longest book he has and you are beyond tired. Instead of skipping pages to make the book shorter, just read a part of the book and leave the rest for the next reading time (insert a fun bookmark making session soon). Skipping pages can mess up their comprehension of the story and thus messing up all of those great conversations you already had. Plus, they always seem to know when you skip pages and end up calling you out. That is no fun when they can feel you rushing it!

Not reading everyday - Studies show that reading for at least 20 minutes every day to your child could change their life.

reading with your children

Missing the joy - From experience in my own classroom and with my children at home, reading to or with your child is one of the most magical things on Earth. They are attentive, excited, and ready for adventure and they want you to be too. New books, library books, childhood favorites, assigned readers, anything will do. At the end of a long day, the temptation of rushing through the reading time is there. I have to often remind myself that these days will be over before I know it. Use these 20 minutes to find joy in being present with your children, slowing down, and getting into a great book!

These 9 worst mistakes you can make when reading is just a helpful list of what to steer clear of when you get with your kiddos to read. Setting a certain time of day can help you to stay on track and make a routine of it (which kids love). Check out my related post How to Remedy Your Communication Crux where you can learn how to keep the lines of communication open with your spouse about the importance of reading time and what y'alls plan is for getting it done daily. Happy reading friends!!!

Growing my gifts according to His grace.

~With love, Danielle Mae


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