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10 Tips for Reading with Your Family

Explore the joys of reading together

Reading together as a family is a great way to connect, get to know one another, and start bigger conversations about our world and ourselves, inspired by the books we read. 

Having a designated reading space, scheduling time for reading, and asking the right questions are just a few of the ways you can make reading go more smoothly for your family — especially if you have a reluctant reader at home or haven’t read as a group before. 

Try these tips to make the most of your family’s reading experience, and if you want to dive even deeper into the titles you read together, check out our available Family Reading Kits. They include discussion question and activities to go along with each book.

1. Set up your reading space  

Create a special, cozy reading nook with good lighting in your home where everyone can focus and be comfortable. The car can also be a great place to listen to an audiobook together as a family. Turn off or set aside other distractions, whether you’re reading together at home or listening on a drive.  

2. Set aside regular time to read

Making reading a part of your daily routine makes it an easier habit to maintain. You may read aloud together or independently and discuss later. If you read together, decide who is reading. Will you switch after every page? Voice certain characters? Don’t forget to factor in time to discuss the pictures in the book (if it has them) or how you felt about what you read afterwards.

3. Engage your readers

Younger readers may have a harder time feeling involved, especially if you are reading with more than one child. Give them some paper and pencils to draw while you read. Encourage them to stretch their imagination as they listen to the story. Involve them in the story by encouraging them to add laughter, sound effects, actions, and different voices for different characters. 

4. Ask questions

Books are full of ideas and words that your reader may not have experience with yet. Guide your discussion of the book with clarifying questions, like “What does this part mean to you?” When you or your listeners do not know a word, take time to look it up — a dictionary can be a helpful friend!   

5. Listen 

Listening is an important skill to develop, in reading and in life. It takes practise to focus and listen to what is being said. As you are reading, take time to talk about what is happening and what might happen in the story. If your listeners are curious, this is where book discussion questions can shine and spark great conversations. Make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute to the discussion.  

6. Don’t be afraid to disagree

Sharing different points of view is a great way to start lively conversations and practice listening and conflict management skills. Disagreement isn’t an opportunity to convince the other that you’re right, but rather to learn from or about one another and understand each other more deeply. 

It can be hard for young readers to learn to disagree politely and respectively. You can support meaningful discussion by starting the conversation in a respectful manner. Ask them to clarify their opinion ("What do you mean?”), paraphrase ("In other words, you think…”), introduce a new idea to the discussion ("I see it a different way than you do…”), or find common ground by acknowledging what you do agree on ("My idea builds on your idea that..." or "I agree with what you said about…”).

7. Reading is about more than just words

Look at the book cover before you start reading. You can learn a lot about the book this way. If your book is illustrated, pay careful attention to the artwork. It can provide clues to help understand the story or may even be telling a secondary story! For those learning to read, illustrations are an important part of building reading comprehension skills.  

8. Support your reading with audiobooks

If you have a reluctant reader or a reader who is struggling to read from the book either aloud or quietly to themselves, audiobooks can make the story come alive. They are often read by the author or trained actors and can be very engaging. Audiobooks support learning to read by emphasizing things like sentence and story structure and how words sound. Try listening to the audiobook while following along with the print book to support learning new vocabulary. Many of the Library’s titles are available as audiobooks, or can be requested and easily purchased by us as an audiobook.  

9. Sound it out

Don’t underestimate the power of reading aloud, even with older or more skilled readers. Studies have shown reading aloud to improve our memory and understanding of texts and strengthen emotional bonds between people. Learn more about the benefits of reading aloud.

10. Know when to stop 

Reading together should always be fun! Don’t be discouraged if your young reader needs extra time to understand ideas, or doesn’t have the focus or energy to read as much as they usually might on a certain day. Above all, you want to associate reading time with fun to encourage your child’s enjoyment of stories, so if they start expressing frustration, move on with your daily routine and try returning to your book later.

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