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Teaching our children to read is perhaps the greatest gift we can give, one that can open their minds, feed their imaginations, and engender life-long learning.

Encouraging children to read

Ask any teacher - reading is the single best thing parents can do with their children to enhance their learning.

Parents interested in quick tips for developing early literacy skills can use the Off to a Good Start in Literacy bookmark to share with their friends, parent advisory committees, and school planning council members.

Reading together at home gives teacher tips for reading with and to your child.

Here are some experiences likely to produce a love of reading in teenagers in and out of the classroom.

Suggested books 

Summer reading

When the school year comes to an end, many children put away their books for the summer. However, BC teachers encourage parents to help their children continue to read daily during the holidays—both for the joy of it, as well as to maintain literacy levels.

Teachers are interested in finding more effective ways to help students learn to read. Over the years we have come to understand more about the complex process of reading, so we have become much better at educating a greater proportion of students to read at higher levels. As much as we wish they would consistently seek out fine literature, children are often more attracted to comic books or other pop culture publications. Teachers advise letting children explore their own literary tastes for their personal reading, and saving the more challenging books for times when parents read aloud to their youngsters.

Reading tips
Here are a few teachers' tips for parents who wish to help enhance their children's literacy skills during the summer:

  • Whether you're lolling about in the hammock or at the beach, set aside time each day for reading. Set a good example by reading yourself and talking to the family about what you've read.
  • Visit the public library often. Most libraries sponsor fun summer reading clubs for pre-school and elementary students.
  • Read the same novel as your teenagers and discuss it with them. This helps build thoughtful, insightful readers.
  • Take delight in the spoken word. Read to your children and encourage them to read aloud to you. When they do, be an avid listener.
  • Borrow audio books from the library before a long road trip, and the miles will fly by.

Media literacy

The concept of literacy has expanded beyond the printed page to embrace media literacy, computer literacy, and other ways in which we find meaning from words and images. Here are a few suggestions for building your children's media literacy skills:

  • Watch television with your children and discuss what you've seen. What are the themes of their favourite shows? What are the messages in that cool advertisement? Encourage them to evaluate, then accept or reject, programs and commercials.
  • Help younger children understand the difference between fantasy and reality on television.
  • Encourage youngsters to choose programs suitable for their age level.
  • Set family policies about TV, including a maximum time per day (but be flexible).
  • Participate in Screen-Free Week.

Video Games
Video games are extremely popular among young Canadians. Parents may have questions such as: Is my child spending too much time playing video games ? Why is my son interested while my daughter isn't? How do I know which video games are good and which are not? For ideas on managing video game playing in the home and other issues, check out the Video Games page provided by Media Smarts.  


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