Back to School, Back to Reading

“Some of the best memories are made in flip-flops,” says writer Kellie Elmore. But, sadly, all good things—even summer--must end. Fall is hinting at its arrival, and already it’s back to school.

As your kids swap their flip-flops for new school shoes and you begin to reinstate bedtimes, try putting daily reading back into your routine. These ideas will not only help beginning readers get their heads back in the game, but they’ll also help you continue to make great memories—with or without flip-flops.

  • Everybody loves an audience—especially a furry one. Have your kids read aloud to pets, or even to a captive audience of stuffed animals.
  • Let your child help you make a special reading spot—a cozy reading nook where he or she can settle in and read without distractions. Try draping a sheet over two chairs and adding some pillows to the floor. 
  • Declare it Laugh-a-Lot Day. Dig out the joke books and take turns reading jokes to each other.  Use funny voices, or read while holding your nose. Bring out the comic books, and pore over the Sunday newspaper “funnies” together.
  • Read aloud together. Take turns reading sentences, or pages.  
  • Create a reader’s theater. Assign yourself a character. Your child reads the narration, and you read the dialogue. Enlist the help of older siblings if other character voices are needed.
  • Use technology to make reading fun. Record or video your child reading a story, encouraging the making of sound effects. Then watch him or her enjoy hearing it or watching it played back. For even more positive reinforcement, share the recording with an appreciative relative.
  • Compose the beginning of a story, and let your child make up an ending for it. Add the child’s ending, your author bylines, and a title your child invents. Then sit back and let your child read the whole story back to you.
  • For kids who find it hard to sit still, embed some reading practice into active games. Use sidewalk chalk to write sight words on a hopscotch board. Each time your child hops on a word, he or she reads it. Similarly, make a word version of Twister.
  • Create a little suspense. Choose a few library books you think your child would like. Wrap each one in a brown paper bag, and write one sentence on each bag that hints at what the book’s about. At various times during the day or week, let your child choose a book. Have fun with the element of surprise.  
  • Instead of reading a bedtime story to your children when you tuck them in, let them tuck YOU in and read a story to you.
  • Extend bedtime by 20–30 minutes—on the condition that your child use the time for reading. For added fun, darken the room and read by flashlight.

Christine French Cully

Christine French Cully is the editor in chief of Highlights for Children, Inc., where she is responsible for shaping the editorial direction of all the magazines, online content and products the company develops for children and their families.  She plays a strategic, ongoing role in the development of the Highlights vision and brand across all markets and channels/around the globe. Cully, a mother of two, resides in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.