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How do you help your child develop a lifelong love for reading?
It is never too early to read to your children. Having children engage in literacy-related activities as early as possible will help them develop the necessary skills for good communication later in life. By reading to children several times a day, you can make a positive impact on their future academic success.

Family Literacy Day® is a perfect time to sit down with your kids and read together. Celebrated every January 27, the national initiative encourages Canadians to spend at least 15 minutes a day enjoying a learning activity as a family. In honour of the day, ABC Life Literacy Canada is offering tips to help infants and young children develop a love for reading.

Reading with Infants

  • Select books with simple, bold, and colourful shapes. These books usually have one or two lines of print on a page and each page has repeated phrases. Hearing words over and over helps children become familiar with them.
  • Choose nursery tales, songs and stories about family life that have a simple sentence structure.
  • Let the child pretend to read the story. Allow him/her to hold the book and turn the pages as the adult points to the pictures.
  • Make the story come alive by using different voices and facial expressions. When a child hears different sounds, not only does the story become more fun, but this also helps the child develop critical listening skills.
  • Children never get bored of hearing their favourite books over and over again. They need to hear the repetition of language to develop literacy skills.

Reading Tips for the Beginner Reader

  • Provide a comfortable reading space for the child with easy access to books. A place with good lighting, away from distractions, and a variety of books is ideal.
  • Point to the words on the page as you read them. This will teach the child that reading goes from left to right, and will also help stimulate word recognition.
  • Read alternate pages of the book and engage in a dialogue with the child. Ask him/her questions about the story to ensure comprehension.
  • Make comparisons as the child reads. Comparing and contrasting helps the child recognize relationships between events and objects, and helps them notice similarities and differences.
  • After reading a story together, ask the child what happened at the beginning, middle, and end. Talking about the events in the story will stimulate higher-order thinking as the child tries to explain what happened in his/her own words.

Reading Tips for Independent Readers

  • Do not stop reading aloud with children even when they can read independently—just take turns sharing the role of narrator.
  • Set a monthly goal for the amount of reading minutes the child should achieve. Log the minutes on a chart and as the child attains each goal, be sure to reward him/her with a brand new book, sticker, or bookmark.
  • Encourage children to develop an interest in a variety of genres such as adventure, mystery, fantasy and poetry.
  • Invite children to share books read in school with parents and caregivers at home. Parents and caregivers should also encourage children to share books they have read at home with their teachers and schoolmates.
  • Keep in mind the more people your child sees and hears reading—parents, siblings, relatives, friends—the more likely your child will be turned on to reading.

For more information on Family Literacy Day, including additional literacy tips and activities, visit www.FamilyLiteracyDay.ca.

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