Families Reconnect Through Reading: National Family Literacy Day

National Family Literacy Day is a great opportunity to re-connect with your children through reading.  While there are not specific activities being hosted at the Wichita Public Library for this holiday, all you need is a library card and a visit to your favorite branch to get started on the celebration. The librarians love to get to know families, and help personalize your reading list. Designating a time to read as a family is a great way to instill the tradition in your household, and it’s something children hold on to in their “we always” memories. To get additional suggestions about how to get started reading as a family I turned to my students.

One of the best things about reading with your children is discovering the story together.  Some book suggestions from our students include: The Secret Garden, recommended by Hazel and Sadie; Magic Tree House (any in the series), recommended by Landon; Danny The Champion of the World, recommended by West; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, recommended by Eli; Legend of The Ghost Dog, recommended by Kenzie; and Old Bear and His Little Cub, recommended by Amira.  When I asked the children about recommending books they quickly came up with these favorites, but it’s not just the content of the story that has them excited about reading with their parents. Many of the students complimented their moms and dads on their use of character voices, and rated this skill very high on the “who is the best reader in your house?” question. Accents are important, too, and one student told me her mom has “the best Yorkshire accent!”

Children are also in tune with how busy your household is, and are aware if reading time is rushed. Many of the students talked about reading with the family at bed time, but some students suggested some non-traditional times of day. Many agreed that weekend mornings and right after school would be great times to read with a parent.

Whether you can fit reading in during afternoons, evenings, or weekends, it’s important to remember that your child is aware of how you are feeling as you read or listen to them read. Designating a phone-free spot (the couch, a special chair, their bedroom), can help you focus in on them and not on the many daily distractions of the clock, emails, texts, and alerts.

Finally, I asked the students why reading as a family is important, and if they would ever stop reading as a family. There was a consensus that reading as a family is important, and that no one is ever too old to listen to a book. Several students also agreed that reading as a family is fun, it shows the kids that the parents love them, and that it encourages them to read more.

Eli (age 8) gave some very good insight when asked why he will read to his children when he grows up: “If I read to them, they’ll read to their kids, and they’ll read to their kids. It’s a generational thing.” Very perceptive, wouldn’t you say?!

So be sure to take the student’s advice, and help build up the next generation of readers. Check out some new — or new to your child — books, and celebrate National Family Literacy Day in a quiet space in your home or outdoors, after school or before bed, or on the weekend, and enjoy some quality family time.