Reading is powerful. Think about it — if you can read, you can learn to do just about anything you put your mind to do. If you can’t read well, learning about science, math, history or anything else will be an additional struggle.
Military-life experiences and resources can help boost family literacy, setting kids up for success in life. Here are some ways you can incorporate the love of reading into your everyday life for kids of all ages.
Set the tone
- It’s up to us, as parents, to set the tone for the importance and joy of reading. A few important things to remember include:
- Read aloud, together every day — make it a priority by scheduling time for it.
- Animate the story — exaggerate words, use different accents, make sound effects and have fun!
- Let your children catch you reading for pleasure and encourage them to read silently, too.
For the last item on that list, I’d much rather have my kids mimic my reading habits than my use of four-letter words (and they always pick the worst times to belt out those beauties).
Visit your on-base library for story-time, school-age and teen programs. They also have classes, groups and a digital library that connects you with online tutoring, programs that read books to your children, research tools and more. Take your children to the public library and bookstores, and watch for events like story time with authors or to meet-and-greets with favorite storybook characters.
- Create a scrapbook where your child can place all emails, letters, pictures and drawings that their deployed parent sends them.
- Make a video of the deploying spouse reading each child’s favorite books or one chapter at a time for older kids.
- Write a book together. Take a composition notebook and write the first page of a story, make your last sentence a cliffhanger and mail it back to your child for them to write more of the story. Repeat.
Make your next PCS an adventure by playing detective with your kids. At the library, explore books and websites to discover more about the new city, state, country, culture and language. Have a family member make a book and personalize it for your child. The story can be about the upcoming move and can include all their favorite people and things.
Here are some other age-appropriate ways to boost your family literacy a little more every day.
Birth to age 5
- Introduce the Exit, Stop and Enter signs everywhere you go with the kids. Have them recognize the sign and then start to teach them the letters that spell the word. Practice often.
- Point out small words in picture books when your child is sitting in your lap. Show them an “a” and ask them to point to every “a” they see on the page. Do the same with other letters or small words.
- Let the kids read you the book by the pictures. Look at each picture together (without reading the story) and have them describe what’s going on.
Children ages 6-9
- Let your child choose books they are interested in so they will be able to focus longer.
- Have your child predict what they think will happen next in the story when a character makes a choice to act one way or another.
- Ask your child how they think the character might feel. Books are a great way to teach empathy, compassion and consequences for actions.
- Find out what your child would do to solve the character’s problem. What choice would they make differently than the character and why?
Preteens and teens
- Encourage your teens to read magazines, almanacs, graphic novels, biographies, blogs or websites. Help them find what interests them and take that moment to connect on their level.
- Find opportunities for your preteens and teens to volunteer by helping younger readers practice to become stronger readers.